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STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) is an ambitious programme to deliver a prototype fusion energy plant, targeting 2040, and a path to commercial viability of fusion.

It will develop and identify solutions to the challenges of delivering fusion energy, benefiting from the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s breadth of expertise and its suite of research facilities – RACE, Materials Research Facility, H3AT and Fusion Technology Facilities. In future years, as the programme progresses, we’ll work with a range of industrial partners to deliver the prototype of a commercially viable fusion plant.

The STEP prototype will have many of the features of a fully operational power station, including infrastructure and associated research and development facilities. It is likely to be a delivery project of comparable scale and value to a major operational power station.

STEP building cutaway

The STEP programme aims to:

  • Build on the UK’s global leadership in fusion
  • Demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion by building a prototype plant somewhere in the UK
  • Enable the development of a world-leading fusion industry, capable of exporting fusion expertise and technology around the world

STEP is a 20 year programme, broken up into different phases. In this first phase the programme will:

  • Develop a concept design for the plant
  • Select a site for the prototype, somewhere in the UK
  • Enable and inspire the UK’s capability and capacity to deliver

Finding a home for STEP

The STEP site will ultimately be selected by the Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. To enable this decision UKAEA will make recommendations based on a set of key criteria, including:

  • Developability of the site, both technically and operationally
  • Potential for socio-economic benefits in the selected community
  • A supportive community

Completion of the first phase of assessment led to the selection of a shortlist of five sites, including:

  • Ardeer (Ayrshire)
  • Goole (East Riding of Yorkshire)
  • Moorside (Cumbria)
  • Ratcliffe on Soar (Nottinghamshire)
  • Severn Edge (South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire)

The final decision on the successful site is anticipated around the end of 2022. More information about STEP and the siting process can be found on the STEP web portal.

Procurement opportunities

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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