Berkeley fusion plant bid passes assessment stage

A bid to build a fusion energy plant in Berkeley and Oldbury passed the first assessment stage on Thursday.

Only 15 proposals progressed beyond initial assessment and the newly-named ‘Severn Edge’ plan was one of them, according to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Western Gateaway want to build a £220 million plant at the two former nuclear sites.

Katherine Bennett CBE, chair of the Western Gateway Partnership, said: “I am delighted that the Severn Edge nomination has progressed through the showstopper stage for this internationally significant infrastructure project”.

“We have had a fantastic opportunity to co-lead the co-ordination and preparation for the Severn Edge submission alongside some of the leading nuclear, academic and business partners in the South West – notably Nuclear South West and the South West Nuclear Hub.”

The Atomic Energy Authority will now consider the plans to create an initial Fusion Technical Centre at Berkeley in Gloucestershire and nearby Oldbury in South Gloucestershire through a detailed desktop assessment process over coming months.

The plant forms part of the Government’s STEP programme – Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production – to support their net zero carbon targets.

And Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub, said: “Establishing a fusion technical centre here in the South West will give the UK its best chance in what is the UK’s nuclear equivalent of a moon-shot project”.

A fusion plant works by heating atoms to ten times the temperature of the sun, forming a plasma in which the atoms smash together to produce heavier atoms.

This releases a huge amount of energy which is converted to power a turbine and generate electricity.

Fusion is different from fission, which is used in traditional nuclear power stations where atoms are split apart to release energy.

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