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Have your say as Cumbria's clean energy ambition moves a step closer

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) search for the best site in the UK to host the prototype fusion power plant, known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is nearing completion, with Cumbria’s Moorside site still very much in the running. People across Cumbria are now being invited to find out more and offer their views and support at an online event on 31 January 2022.

STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) is an ambitious £222 million investment to support the design and build of a prototype fusion energy plant, with operations set to start in 2040. The programme is being delivered by UKAEA, on behalf of UK Government, with the initial aim being to produce a concept design and choose a site by 2024.

The STEP prototype will be used to develop the technology and enable a fleet of commercial plants to follow in the years after 2040 and will build on UKAEA’s expertise in developing spherical tokamaks.

Fusion is a really exciting development, which has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars where atoms are fused to release energy, creating nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas.

STEP is expected to create thousands of highly skilled jobs during construction and operations and act as an anchor to attract other high-tech industries to the area, furthering the development of science and technology capabilities, locally and nationally.

Cumbria’s application was developed by the Cumbria LEP and its Board members alongside Copeland Borough Council, with the Moorside site progressing from the original longlist of 15 sites to the current shortlist of five sites. The other four sites are:

  • Ardeer (North Ayrshire)
  • Goole (East Riding of Yorkshire)
  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar (Nottinghamshire)
  • Severn Edge (South Gloucestershire & Gloucestershire)

The assessment process is now coming to a close with UKAEA keen to hear the views of host communities, with an evening public consultation event taking place on 31 January 2022 at 6.00pm. Online booking is available at:

Photo of Dr Rebecca Weston, Chair of CLEP's Clean Energy Sector Panel, and Chief Operating Officer at Sellafield Ltd

Dr Rebecca Weston, Chair of CLEP’s Clean Energy Sector Panel and Chief Operating Officer at Sellafield Ltd, said: “I would strongly encourage our businesses and communities to attend this online event to find out more about STEP. It has the potential to create a clean, green, safe and abundant energy source, which will genuinely transform energy generation, once operational. This is one of the most exciting projects in the UK and Cumbria has the potential to host this and create high quality jobs for future generations.”

“It is important that people understand what fusion is and isn’t and this event provides the perfect opportunity to find out more. Here, in Cumbria, our heritage, experience and expertise means that we have an enormous amount to offer and it’s important that UKAEA colleagues have the chance to hear why Moorside is the perfect location for STEP”.

STEP is one of several clean energy development opportunities alongside offshore wind, small-scale community projects, emergent hydrogen developments and other new nuclear projects that could lead to Cumbria becoming a national centre of clean energy generation and a positive contributor towards the county’s net zero ambition.

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