Five sites shortlisted for fusion power plant

By 14 October 2021 January 21st, 2022 Industry news

UKAEA has announced a shortlist of five sites which could host the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant.

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is the UK’s bid to develop the world’s first commercially-feasible fusion power station. In December 2020, fusion developer UKAEA invited nominations to host its prototype power plant, and potentially create a world-leading industrial cluster for low-carbon fusion power.

From a longlist of 15 sites announced in June, the five shortlisted are:

  • Ardeer, North Ayrshire.
  • Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire.
  • Moorside, Cumbria.
  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire.
  • Severn Edge, Gloucestershire.
[Update: in January 2022, UKAEA ceased assessment of Ratcliffe-on-Soar, and restarted assessment of the West Burton site, also in Nottinghamshire.]

STEP is a government-backed programme to build a prototype fusion energy plant in the UK. The STEP plant aims to generate net electricity as well as demonstrating how the plant will be maintained and how it will produce its own fuel.

STEP will create thousands of highly skilled jobs during construction and operations and attract other high-tech industries to its host region, furthering the development of science and technology capabilities locally and nationally.

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.

STEP will pave the way to the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world. UKAEA is targeting first operations in the early 2040s.

Paul Methven, STEP programme director at UKAEA, said: “The shortlisting of sites is a significant step for the programme as it helps bring this challenging, long-term endeavour to life in the here and now. It also increases our focus as we push on with design and delivery of what we hope is the world’s first fusion power plant prototype.

“Through the next phase of assessment, we look forward to working with the shortlisted sites and local communities to gain a more in-depth understanding of the socio-economic, commercial and technical conditions associated with each site, before we make our final recommendations to the Secretary of State in 2022.”

  • For more information on STEP and the siting process, go to