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The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is an ambitious programme to accelerate the delivery of sustainable fusion energy.

The spherical tokamak is a promising type of compact fusion machine, which has been under development since the 1980s. CCFE is about to start operating its new spherical tokamak, MAST Upgrade, opening an exciting new chapter in the drive towards practical fusion energy.

The STEP programme is a staged programme to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor, based on the spherical tokamak, by 2040. It will develop and identify solutions to the challenges of delivering fusion energy, benefiting from Culham’s breadth of expertise and its suite of research facilities – RACEMaterials Research Facility, H3AT and Fusion Technology Facilities.

Artist's illustration of a spherical tokamak power plant

The STEP programme aims to:

  • Build on UK global leadership in fusion;
  • Deliver a prototype reactor by 2040;
  • Prove the viability of fusion as a technology for generating electricity.

The UK government has announced £220 million of funding, launching STEP as a collaborative programme that combines the strengths of UKAEA with industry, universities and other organisations.

Over the next five years the STEP programme will:

  • Create an investible concept design;
  • Understand the market and how the reactor will be built;
  • Enable and inspire the UK’s capability and capacity to deliver.

STEP offers numerous procurement opportunities, set out in the STEP Programme Procurement Plan Schedule (hosted on GOV.UK). This is published every quarter and sets out procurement opportunities as well as details of the responsible procurement officer who can be contacted for more information. Note that tender dates are subject to change.

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