U.K. seeks site for STEP fusion reactor

December 4, 2020, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has asked local governments to submit bids to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production project, or STEP, according to an article published by Bloomberg on December 1.

The STEP plant will be developed by the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, which says that construction could begin as soon as 2032, with operations by 2040, and “will prove that fusion is not a far-off dream.”

An article published by Popular Mechanics describes the project in more detail, stating that the first-of-a-kind fusion reactor is expected to cost over $2.5 billion. The article discusses how a “meltdown” of a fusion reactor would release an incredible amount of tritium, based on the current designs. But according to the ITER Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, fusion reactors will be inherently safe. Because fusion energy production does not rely on a chain reaction, if any disruptions occur, “the reactor would automatically come to a halt within a few seconds, since the process of energy production is arrested, with no effects taking place on the outside,” the IAEA said.

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