Nuclear fusion is an energy process which powers the sun – and the new site could be built as soon as 2040, if scientists can finalise the rapidly-developing technology to replicate it and ultimately replace fossil fuel power stations.
Now it has been announced that the project, which could create up to 10,000 jobs, will go ahead at West Burton, eight miles east of Retford.
The Nottinghamshire site has been chosen ahead of 14 other sites across the country shortlisted as part of a national search for potential locations by the Government.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the news at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham today, October 3.
The Retford site has been chosen ahead of locations in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Gloucestershire and North Ayrshire.
The project will replace the coal power station site known as ‘West Burton A’ which will cease operations next year, just as theSpherical Tokamak for Energy Production fusion project begins.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), which is leading the project, said fusion offers an ‘inherently safe and virtually limitless’ energy source and produces zero greenhouse gas emissions and no waste products.
Its only by-product is helium- an inert, non-toxic gas.
Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and member for Mansfield North, and Mansfield MP, said it was ‘fantastic’ to be able to share the news.
The Government committed £200m to the project back in 2019.
Research has been ongoing since, and in February results from testing facilities in Oxford confirmed the technology has the potential power to replace large regional power plants, without the need for fossil fuel.
Coun Bradley said: “This is a huge opportunity for us, not least in terms of the narrative of North Nottinghamshire powering the country with our mines in the past, and being able to do that in the future with this carbon-free source.
“We know it works, we know it’s safe, but the point of this is to grow it into a commercial opportunity, where North Nottinghamshire can power the country and power the world again.
“This is a huge multi-billion pound opportunity for local residents.”
He said the UKAA wants to get on-site ‘quickly’ and on Thursday, local residents will be invited to discuss the next steps.
Coun James Naish, Bassetlaw Council leader, said: “West Burton A has delivered power across the nation for decades and will now play a vital role in the UK’s transition to a greener, carbon neutral future.
“The project has strong local support and I particularly want to highlight the role of the West Burton residents’ planning group.
“This group of volunteers has met regularly for 18 months and its commitment to engaging the community and seeing the site quickly taken forward has been inspiring.”
UKAEA will be responsible for all aspects of the development, planning, construction and operation of the facility – construction of the prototype plant is due to start in the early 2030s and become operational about 2040.