Gloucestershire moves a step closer to building the world’s first fusion energy plant

A plan to build a new fusion energy plant in Gloucestershire, potentially creating thousands of jobs, has made its way onto a shortlist of just five potential UK sites, meaning it could go-ahead as early as next year.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

A new fusion energy plant in Gloucestershire, which would create thousands of jobs, has moved a step closer to reality after the business plan behind the Severn Edge scheme won a place on a government shortlist.

Just five such plans make up the list, and if the Gloucestershire bid is given the go-ahead by the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy building work could go ahead by the end of next year.

It would mean the UK’s prototype fusion plant (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, or STEP), which is hailed as a world-first, would be built at Berkeley in Gloucestershire and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: ‘It’s fantastic news that the Severn Edge nomination has made the shortlist.

‘Reaching the final five is a great achievement and I hope the strong case we have put forward means we can go on to secure this investment for our region.’

According to those behind the Severn Edge bid the project would ‘lead to thousands of highly skilled jobs being created across the region’ and ‘have a massive impact on economic regeneration’.

Katherine Bennett, chair of the Western Gateway partnership, said she believed the Severn Edge bid area offered ‘an unrivalled breadth of skills, supply chain and technology to deliver this pioneering approach to renewable energy’.

Andy Bates, of Nuclear South West, the industry body powered by Business West, said: ‘We have an incredible scientific and engineering base here. We are also one of the leading regions in digital and digital design, which will be crucial to the success.’

Cllr Doina Cornell, leader of Stroud District Council, said: ‘I sincerely hope that the Severn Edge bid is chosen, putting Stroud district at the heart of an important energy generation technology which could benefit generations to come.’

If Severn Edge goes ahead it would be expected to be operational by 2040.

By Andrew Merrell

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