Representatives from businesses and academic organisations from across the Midlands gathered in Parliament to show their support for Nottinghamshire County Council’s campaign, alongside EDF UK, Midlands Engine, D2N2 LEP and Bassetlaw District Council, to host the UK’s first commercially operating fusion power plant.
West Burton A, an existing coal-fired power station, is one of the five government-selected sites in the running to host the new blueprint for the zero-carbon generation for the whole of the UK, known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).
Achieving STEP would transform and regenerate the region, creating thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities for construction and manufacturing sectors, in an area already intimately linked with fossil fuels.
The Midlands Fossil 2 Fusion event was addressed by Cllr Ben Bradley, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council MP, Co-Chair of the Midland’s Engine APPG Lord Ravensdale, EDF Commercial Director Rachael Glaving and Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw.
North Nottinghamshire has a rich heritage in energy generation and has been at the forefront of powering the nation with the region often referred to as megawatt valley.
Fusion has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars where atoms are fused to release energy, creating nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas.
West Burton A is recognised as being the ideal location for a number of reasons:
• The site can offer over 300 hectares of land, a brownfield site large enough to accommodate the fusion plant and related enterprises, with a single landowner (EDF UK).
• The site has an existing grid connection and water abstraction licence, as well as a direct rail link, transforming a fossil fuel site into a fusion hub.
• It is closely located to highly respected academic centres and UKAEA’s own Fusion Technology Facility.
• Crucially, it is close to key manufacturers and suppliers for the current and future nuclear new build projects.
• Most importantly there is strong support for the development of the site locally, across political parties with business backing in the region.
Cllr Ben Bradley, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, MP said: “This site in Nottinghamshire has huge reasons to be selected by Government for the STEP programme and the opportunities for thousands of jobs, skills and renewable energy research are just a few. Undoubtedly, the STEP project would make the difference to the region most in need of levelling up. The area is known as megawatt valley, and rightly so.”
Rachael Glaving, Commercial Director, Generation at EDF UK, said: “EDF is the UK’s largest producer of zero carbon electricity, we operate all of the country’s nuclear power stations, so we were delighted to see the West Burton A site on the shortlist for the UKAEA’s very exciting fusion project. It really is a perfect fit for a site.”
Lord Ravensdale, Co-Chair of the Midlands Engine APPG, said: “West Burton is uniquely placed to deliver this with extensive energy capabilities and associated supply chains already in place and this will bring generational transformation to the region.”
Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, said: “Most importantly, there is genuine cross party and community support for the development of the site locally with business backing in the region. The regeneration this would generate for the area and beyond will be huge, and has the added benefit of helping to once again power the nation.”
Cllr Simon Greaves, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, added: “West Burton is the ideal location for the STEP project. There is local and regional support for the site, a proud history of energy generation, access to skills and a strong supply chain in place. It offers the opportunity to provide jobs and energy for generations to come.”