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STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant, targeting operations around 2040.

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
  • Deliver a prototype machine
  • Demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion
  • Pave the way to a commercial fleet of fusion energy plants in the future

In October 2019, UK Government announced an initial £222 million of funding to produce a concept design by 2024. In addition, the STEP programme will:

  • Understand the market and how the reactor will be built
  • Choose a site for the prototype
  • 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 Business Secretary following a recommendation made by UKAEA.

This recommendation will be made following a rigorous validation and assessment process, based on a set of key criteria covering three main areas:

  • Technical and operational suitability
  • Alignment with STEP’s socio-economic and community benefit principles
  • Support for the commercial progress of the project

UKAEA has issued an open call for sites with the aim of attracting a broad range of potential locations. More detailed information on the criteria and assessment 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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