Fusion solutions: The UK takes STEP towards low-carbon energy

abstact image of blue energy in a ball
© Sakkmesterke

We could see a steady flow of low-carbon energy without the need for fossil fuels following the Science Minister’s announcement of the UK Industrial Fusion Solutions body

Fusion energy has the potential to change the world. When it comes to fusion solutions, we may see the delivery of nearly limitless, safe and low-carbon energy across the globe.

According to the UK government, the sector “represents a burgeoning industry in which the UK is already a world leader, as demonstrated by the record-setting results from experiments conducted at the UK’s Joint European Torus (JET) facility last year”.

Creating fusion solutions for the greater good

Scientists believe fusion technology has the potential to not only power the world but deliver vast economic growth across the UK.

As stated in a government press release, “On the visit to the future site of the UK’s first prototype fusion energy plant at West Burton, Nottinghamshire, the Science Minister urged energy companies and investors to recognise the vast potential fusion energy could have for both the UK and the wider world”.

Recognise the vast potential fusion energy could have for both the UK and the wider world

Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production and Magnetic confinement fusion

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) plant is set to be constructed by 2040 and will demonstrate how fusion energy can generate electricity for the UK grid.

The approach used by the STEP programme to generate fusion is known as magnetic confinement fusion. This method occurs when a mix of two forms of hydrogen are heated to temperatures 10 times the heat of the sun’s core and fuse together to create helium and release huge amounts of energy.

“Fusion energy now has the potential to transform our world for the better by harnessing the same process powering the sun to provide cheap, abundant, low-carbon energy across the world” commented Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman.

What can fusion energy be used for?

The energy created can be used to generate electricity in the same way as existing power stations. Fusion is many million times more efficient than burning coal, oil or gas, and the raw materials needed to provide the fuel for fusion are readily available in nature.

Although a number of barriers in the way the UK government have ensured the STEP programmes are equipped to address them.

“The STEP programme intends to pave the way to the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world, driving forward the UK’s global leadership in this innovative sector” according to the UK government.

Professor Sir Ian Chapman, UKAEA Chief Executive stated, “The establishment of Industrial Fusion Solutions will enable STEP to accelerate its journey towards delivery of electricity from fusion energy to the grid. The new body, which will be formed over the next 18 months, will be established as a programme delivery organisation, driving performance and pace and engaging industry in this endeavour.”

“Alongside the establishment of the new organisation, we are beginning to map out our future skills requirements and, as part of this, we are committing to the development of a STEP Skills Centre at West Burton. This will enable us to provide as many opportunities as possible to people across the area.”


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