North Ayrshire loses bid to become UK's first fusion energy plant

Ardeer in North Ayrshire lost out to the West Burton power station site in Nottinghamshire in the selection process.

North Ayrshire loses bid for Ardeer to become site of UK’s first fusion energy plant Website

North Ayrshire has lost out in a bid to become the site of the UK’s first fusion energy plant.

The UK Government has confirmed that the West Burton power station site in Nottinghamshire has been selected.

Fusion is a proposed form of power generation which generates electricity using heat from nuclear fusion reactions.

The process involves two light atomic nuclei combining while releasing large amounts of energy.

Ardeer in North Ayrshire was shortlisted among four other sites – Goole in East Yorkshire, Moorside in Cumbria, Severn Edge in Gloucestershire, as well as the winner, Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire.

It is hoped that STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) will be built by 2040.

The UK Government is providing £220m of funding for the first phase of the programme.

Following the announcement, the Scottish Greens indicated that there is a “long way to go” before it is known whether the technology is viable or safe.

Mark Ruskell, the party’s environment and energy spokesperson, explained that hopes for decarbonising the economy cannot be pinned on fusion power.

“The climate emergency is happening all around us, we don’t have time to waste by pouring billions of pounds of public money into unproven technology,” he said.

“Fusion may have a role in the future, but there is a long way to go before we know if it it safe or viable.

“We cannot pin our hopes for decarbonising our economy on technology that is still years away.

“Nor can support for fusion technology undo the terrible damage that is being done by an energy policy that is based on fossil fuels and the dirty energy sources of the past.”

Ruskell urged the UK Government to focus on major investment in renewables.

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The Scottish Green MSP said: “This may not directly impact Scotland, but we all have an interest in governments across the UK taking effective climate action rather than throwing away the little time that we have left.

“Many of the clean technologies that could make a real difference already exist.

“The UK Government should instead focus on the major investment we need in renewables and in building an energy sector that works for people and the planet.”

Tristram Denton, head of commercial and programme development for STEP, described it as an “ambitious” programme.

“Fusion has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come and STEP is leading the way.

“It’s an ambitious programme operating at the forefront of science, technology and engineering.

“It’s clear we must make significant changes to address the effects of climate change and STEP’s delivery partners will play a crucial role in our quest to make fusion a reality.”