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Fusion Yorkshire

Fusion Yorkshire is working to secure a new home for the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s STEP Programme (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).

Fusion is increasingly seen as one of the most promising options for generating the cleaner energy that the world badly needs.

Whatever you understand about nuclear energy, fusion will make you think again. It is a totally different technology and requires a totally different – cleaner and safer – infrastructure and environment.

There are many reasons why Goole makes sense as a future home for STEP. Fusion is about bringing elements together to create a new energy. This is what we do in Goole, bringing together the support and commitment of the region’s key stakeholder organisations to create a new energy and dynamic infrastructure geared to facilitate the successful delivery of the STEP Programme.

We believe STEP will bring significant benefits to Goole, Yorkshire, and the wider UK:

This multi-£Bn world class low carbon energy plant will be a global first, creating significant international exposure for Yorkshire as a centre of excellence for low carbon energy production and a wide range of associated technologies.

A catalyst for investment into the region for the facility and the supply chain that will be needed. This will create 1000s of jobs in support of the facility’s design, construction and operation across many sectors, stimulating other businesses to move to the area to be a part of the low carbon energy economy that is growing in Yorkshire and Humber.

Our children will have further stimulus and motivation to succeed, especially in STEM, and our schools and colleges will be even better positioned to provide a well educated, trained and diverse workforce for STEP and adjacent sectors

The site we are proposing at Goole provides a gateway for our region (and the wider UK) to access all the benefits of STEP and the new low carbon energy estuary. It is well connected by rail, road and sea and ringed by emerging high quality technology and innovation businesses

We want to show that Goole, Yorkshire and Humber are fully behind our offer to create a jewel in the crown for low carbon technologies and to put the region firmly on the map as a global centre of excellence. We can deliver:
  • A fresh location – well connected, uncluttered with legacy industry issues and ready to create a campus style home. A perfect setting to position the new STEP facility as a showcase for innovation on a global stage.
  • A solution for STEP that supports the levelling up agenda and brings more investment, jobs and improvement to communities in the north of England.
  • Great connections – to the national grid, to road, to rail, to skills, to a diverse workforce eager to benefit from Humber’s renaissance as a best practice hub for low carbon energy technologies.
  • Connections to the region’s universities, colleges and schools, which support our bid and stand ready to develop programmes to meet the skills and resourcing needs of the STEP Programme.
  • A location ringed with the very best in innovation in low carbon energy technologies, from hydrogen to carbon capture to wind power. Yorkshire is leading the way in new energy genera
  • There are 6.68 million residents within 50 miles of Goole. 4.1 million in 16-64 age bracket.
  • Bringing STEP to Goole has the support of all of the major local and regional stakeholder organisations. We will work in harmony to support and facilitate the development of what will be a global first.
  • STEP can be a focal point for a region that is at the forefront of the push towards zero carbon.
  • Fusion Yorkshire has pledged its full support to making STEP a success in Goole.
  • In doing so, it will bring new investment and jobs to the area and support the growth ambitions of Goole as a town with huge potential to shine.
  • STEP will create economic growth across Yorkshire and beyond, attracting new companies, talent and energy.
  • The site we are proposing will be a gateway for Goole and the new low carbon energy estuary.
  • It is well connected by rail, road and ringed by high quality technology and innovation businesses focused on low carbon energy.
  • It is on the boundary of four Yorkshire LEPs, which will amplify, support and broadcast success to encourage continued investment to the region.
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Have your say. Send your queries to

info@fusionyorkshire.co.uk 0800 860 6268

FAQs

What is fusion energy?

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Fusion involves forcing together two light atoms - forms of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium – to form a heavier one – helium. This process creates energy, which can be converted to heat to drive steam turbines that can put electricity on the grid. It is fusion energy that powers the sun, and indeed all stars.

Why is fusion energy so important?

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Fusion produces no greenhouse gases and so has potential to provide a major contribution to combatting global warming and climate change. Amongst a mix of sustainable energy sources – wind, solar, bioenergy, etc – it will provide a secure, reliable supply of electricity to remove reliance on oil and gas.

How close are we to achieving the conditions for fusion energy?

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The UK Atomic Energy Authority operates the JET fusion device at their Culham site in Oxfordshire (on behalf of the European fusion science community). JET is the most advanced fusion facility in the world. It can already achieve the temperature needed for fusion at the right density, but the containment of the heat in the hydrogen-like fuel needs to be better to deliver net fusion power to the grid.

JET has already produced 16MW of fusion power – enough to power about 500 kettles – but it used significantly more than this to create the fusion conditions. Experiments are presently being performed on JET (to Christmas 2021) to break its own world record in fusion power, and the results will guide STEP design to produce more power than it consumes – 100MW more.

How will STEP achieve the conditions for fusion energy?

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The design of STEP will learn from our experience at JET, and our other national fusion facility at Culham, called MAST-U. It aims to improve the containment of the heat in the fuel via a more compact, more efficient arrangement of magnetic field than employed on JET.

How much power will STEP deliver?

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STEP is designed as a demonstration facility, pointing the way to a subsequent commercial fleet of fusion power stations. It will therefore deliver less power than a commercial plant, and will target about 100MW net electricity – equivalent to about 15 off-shore wind turbines.

Is fusion nuclear?

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The process is a nuclear one but is the opposite approach to conventional nuclear reactors that are operating today, which work via fission. Conventional nuclear reactors create energy by splitting apart heavy atoms, such as uranium, and this creates long-lived, high level radioactive waste that has to be stored and maintained for very many years.

Fusion forces together light hydrogen-like atoms to create helium, which is not radioactive. Thus, while both fusion and fission are nuclear processes, they are very different in practice.

Does fusion produce waste?

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The products of the fusion reaction are helium and a fast particle called a neutron. Helium is itself a valuable commodity. We capture the energy of the neutron and convert it to heat to drive electricity turbines, however, the neutron will also collide with the structure of the tokamak – the steel and other materials we build it out of. The trace elements within steel (the elements that make steel different from iron) can become radioactive when bombarded by neutrons, as can other materials like tungsten.

Thus, at the end of their life, most of the components nearest the reaction chamber would have to be treated as low level waste (LLW). This is the lowest category of radioactive waste. It is the same category as radioactive waste from hospitals, for example.

Furthermore, (a) clever design of low activation materials will further reduce the amount of low-level waste produced, and (b) it is only some components of the power plant that will become low-level waste and would need to be stored at dedicated sites when they are removed or dismantled. For present materials, it is expected that they would only be radioactive for about 100 years.

How is the waste dealt with?

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Low level waste is generated in hospitals, medical organisations, universities and nuclear power stations. It is stored in steel containers at the Low-Level Waste Repository which is sited in Cumbria.

What are the consequences of accidents?

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A possible accident scenario is that the chamber containing the hydrogen-like fuel is breached. If the building and filtration systems remain intact, then somebody at the site boundary would receive a very small radiation dose – roughly comparable to a single transatlantic flight.

Even in an extremely unlikely situation where both the vessel and building were breached together, the radiation dose of somebody at the boundary of the building is about equivalent to the average natural dose a UK person receives each year (or the equivalent of hospital radiological imaging procedures).

What is STEP?

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STEP’s mission is to deliver a UK prototype fusion energy plant, targeting 2040, and a path to commercial viability of fusion. STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) has a number of key objectives, including the production of net energy – that is, more energy generated by the plant than it takes to run it – as well as demonstrating how future power plants will be effectively maintained and how the plant will make its own fuel to become self-sufficient. The programme is currently in its first phase with key aims including the development of a concept design and the selection of a site where STEP will eventually be built.

Is it called STEP Goole or Fusion Yorkshire?

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STEP Goole is the nomination name rather than the project name, and reflects the economic and transport infrastructure offered by Goole which is why this site was put forward. We recognise that this location is strategically important for a much wider area though, which is why we are referring to it as Fusion Yorkshire.

As can be seen from the attached graphic, the site shares proximity to Goole, Rawcliffe and Airmyn but our bid has been branded Fusion Yorkshire as the opportunity transcends local geographies and can put the whole area on the map in a global context.

What economic value will STEP bring to the area?

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There are huge potential social and economic benefits of this multi-billion-pound project to the community. These include the creation of hundreds of high-quality, long-term jobs, training and employment of many apprentices and graduates and the development of existing businesses to support the project.

If this site is selected, STEP will undertake a detailed socio-economic assessment as part of the consenting process and more detail around this will be available once this work is complete. Fusion Yorkshire is currently in the process of creating an economic report to support the site selection process.

To give an indication of what this could look like, UKAEA studies show a 1:4 investment return for every pound spent on fusion. The site in Culham is home to 2000 jobs. We have every reason to be optimistic that the economic value of STEP for Goole and the surrounding area will be much bigger. If STEP comes to Yorkshire it will create opportunities for new hotels, restaurants and wider regeneration in the area.

Where are you in the process?

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The project is at a really early stage right now, Fusion Yorkshire is aiming to demonstrate that this site is where the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s STEP programme should be built.

We have had face-to-face conversations with all land-tenants who may be directly impacted by this potential project.

STEP has recently delivered a recent series of widely-advertised events – including the STEP: Goole Community Forum. We, as Fusion Yorkshire, have written to immediate residents living closest to the potential site boundary, and put posters in local libraries to engage the wider community. We have briefed local ward councillors and key stakeholders, and have written letters to notify other businesses and community groups in the area.

We are still at an early stage and so engagement with the community and wider stakeholders will be ongoing. If the site is selected, we know the STEP team and Fusion Yorkshire team will be committed to extensive engagement and establishing the right forums for engagement with communities and stakeholders.

Is there a more detailed map showing the full extent of land to be used?

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The site is bounded by the A614 to the north and the M62 to the south, near J36 and there is a large package of land potentially available here. The site design and layout will be finalised once the STEP team has made a final recommendation to the Secretary of State on which of the shortlisted sites should host the programme.

I live locally – how do I find out more?

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Fusion Yorkshire will continue their dialogue with local ward members so they can update residents in forums such as parish council meetings.

Fusion Yorkshire have already hosted drop in sessions in Rawcliffe and Airmyn where residents could talk face to face to people involved directly with bid and were able to answer their questions. A similar event will also be held in Goole over the coming months.

Get in touch with the Fusion Yorkshire team on 0800 860 9268 or info@fusionyorkshire.co.uk

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