Moorside site has been shortlisted as a potential host of the UK’s first prototype nuclear fusion power plant.
The site on land next to Sellafield has been named as one of five locations nationally under consideration to locate the STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) plant.
The design and construction of STEP – which will pave the way to commercial fusion and a virtually limitless supply of low-carbon energy – will be delivered through the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), whose shortlist was announced today (Thursday).
Communities across the UK were invited to make a submission of a suitable location for STEP earlier this year, and an original 15-site long list has been narrowed down to the final five.
Political leaders in West Cumbria welcomed the announcement with Copeland’s MP, Trudy Harrison, calling the proposed site the ‘logical’ choice.
She said: “The NDA-owned land adjacent to Sellafield is the most logical site for a raft of new and advanced technology.
“As the Centre of Nuclear Excellence, there is nowhere else in Europe with the concentration of precision and specific skills in nuclear that we have here in Copeland.
“Copeland has been at the forefront of so many ‘firsts’ in the nuclear industry, and we are well placed to deliver another in the form of STEP.
“STEP is an ambitious programme and is one of many developments that I want to secure for Copeland, and today’s shortlisting announcement is very encouraging.”
The Copeland mayor, Mike Starkie, was also welcoming of the news as he posted on his social media pages.
The assessment process of the five shortlisted sites is expected to continue until summer 2022.
UKAEA will then make recommendations to the Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), with a final decision anticipated around the end of 2022.
Once a site is selected, construction is due to start in 2024 and the plant is expected to hit peak operations by 2040.