STEP plans to utilize magnetic confinement technology where the atomic nuclei of hydrogen are combined to produce helium, releasing a large amount of energy in the process.
The United Kingdom has declared its intention to construct its initial prototype of a nuclear fusion reactor by 2040, with the aim of showcasing the ability of this technology to provide energy to the UK’s electricity grid.
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) will be located on the site of the West Burton A coal-fired power plant in Nottinghamshire, Northern England. This new iteration of the ITER experimental reactor, which was launched in France in 2007, represents a significant advancement in fusion technology.
“Fusion energy has the potential to revolutionize our world by providing almost unlimited, safe and low-emission energy to the entire world for generations,” the British executive stated, who established the public company UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd to oversee the project.
UK nuclear project
STEP aims to “lay the foundation for the commercialization and potential creation of a network of future plants globally,” according to the government statement.
The Executive acknowledged that there are still “significant technical challenges” that must be addressed in order to achieve nuclear fusion.
On Monday, the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman, visited the site where the nuclear fusion reactor will be built and assured that the United Kingdom is already a “world leader in fusion science and technology.”
“We are making progress so that fusion energy stops being cutting-edge science and becomes a billion-dollar clean energy industry,” said the conservative politician.
The British government notes that its announcement follows the announcement from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California (United States) in December that they have achieved the first successful nuclear fusion reaction with net energy gain.
In Britain’s STEP project, magnetic confinement technology will be used to fuse atomic nuclei of hydrogen, which will generate helium and release vast amounts of energy.
“Fusion energy is much more efficient than burning coal, oil, or gas and the necessary raw materials can be found in nature,” the British government states in its announcement.
The CEO of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) stated that the prototype to be built in England will “accelerate the progress towards connecting nuclear fusion with the electricity grid.”