Out of fifteen potential areas in the UK, West Burton A was named as the official site on October 3 2022, after a selection process that lasted almost two years. It is located a short distance away from Worksop and could bring as many as 10,000 jobs and millions of pounds worth of revenue to the area. If successful, the plant could be the first of its kind to commercialise nuclear fusion energy in the entire world.
Nuclear fusion is a clean, safe and almost limitless source of power. It uses the same process that powers the sun and stars to generate enormous amounts of energy – all without generating greenhouse gases or long-lived radioactive waste.
Josh Mapplebeck, who is a workplace tutor at North Notts College, said: “This is massive for our local community and shows how technology is advancing. We at North Notts College could not be more pleased with the decision to construct something of this magnitude so close to home. With the specialist apprenticeship programmes we run in welding, fabrication, maintenance operations, and engineering, we hope to be working with the future apprentices and companies involved in this fantastic project.”
To fund this project, a total of £220 million has been set aside by the government to develop a prototype fusion reactor as part of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme. STEP is a UK Atomic Energy (UKAE) project that aims to establish nuclear fusion as a proven technology for energy production by the year 2040.
Keith Sanderson, Campus Manager at North Notts College, stated: “The local community will benefit greatly from this exciting development in the region. It will provide a welcome boost to the jobs market and provide people with the opportunity to develop their skills and their career through an apprenticeship or upskilling scheme. We welcome this project and the prospects that it brings to the area.”
West Burton is currently being decommissioned in line with the government’s plan to phase out coal energy by 2024. As global temperatures rise, these plans are critical to combating the effects of climate change. Construction of the new complex is expected to begin in 2030, with operations starting as early as 2040.
John R Savage, Director of The National Fluid Power Centre also welcomes the plans, stating: “For the last 22 years we have supported the knowledge, skills and role competency development of the UK workforce across some 27 sectors of UK Industry. Our expertise in Hydraulics, Pneumatics and Applied Electronics, Control Systems and Sensor technology puts the NFPC in a strong position to support the workforce developments at West Burton “A” Plant, at all levels from Apprentices to Maintenance Engineers as and when required.”