'Trailblazing': Lancaster hoping to be home to planet's first ever nuclear fusion plant
As part of their ambitious and forward-thinking STEP programme, the Government’s UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA) is currently searching for a location for the first ever nuclear fusion power plant, which they hope to design, build, and make operational a commercial-scale facility by 2040.
With the proposal potentially allowing the UK to lead the world in the development of nuclear fusion generation, Lancaster City Council are currently working on a site nomination for STEP in the local area while Lancaster University is tonight hosting an online Institution of Mechanical Engineers event in conjunction with the The Institution of Engineering and Technology to discuss the programme.
Given that Heysham Power Stations will be coming to the end of their lives over the next 10 or 15 years, it is hoped that STEP could represent the next chapter in Lancaster's proud history in nuclear generation built on well-established local expertise, infrastructure, and transport networks.
“We want the UK to be a trailblazer in fusion energy by capitalising on its incredible potential as a clean energy source that could last for generations to come," said the then-Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma in December. “Communities across the country have an opportunity to secure their place in the history books as the home of STEP, helping the UK to be the first country in the world to commercialise fusion and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs to drive the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution.”
The technology replicates how the sun works on a much smaller scale in a contained chamber in order to provide limitless clean energy at a time when the climate crisis demands that energy sources are green for the sake of the survival of humanity.
If brought to Lancashire, the plant would bring with it thousands of highly-skilled local employment opportunities and billions of pounds in inward investment and development.
"The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is always supporting its members and the wider community in learning more about engineering," said Dean Grierson of IMechE and Lancaster University, who will be hosting the STEP event tonight. "The STEP programme is an excellent opportunity for Lancashire and, in particular, Heysham and is a great vessel for learning about what may well be the future of energy.
"Our event is absolutely free and aimed towards local people who have an interest in the future of their local area, science and technology, or simply expanding their knowledge."