CEO appointed to deliver UK prototype fusion energy plant

Date posted: October 24, 2023
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Fusion Energy Leadership

The Minister for Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie MP, has announced the appointment of Paul Methven as the inaugural CEO of UK Industrial Fusion Solutions (UKIFS) responsible for the delivery of STEP – a prototype fusion energy plant to be built at West Burton in north Nottinghamshire. 

The STEP programme aims to pave the way for the commercialisation of fusion energy and the potential development of a fleet of future fusion powerplants around the world, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of a new technology and emerging industry.

Minister Bowie made the announcement during his first visit to STEP’s future home in West Burton where he also emphasised the wider benefits the programme will bring to the region.

He said: “The STEP programme is at the heart of our Fusion Energy Leadership Strategy – key to making the potential of new fusion energy a commercial reality, and to drive economic growth.

“Paul Methven will bring a wealth of experience to the programme, working to deliver a prototype fusion plant in the 2040s and to cement the UK’s place at the forefront of developing this cutting-edge technology.”

Professor David Gann CBE, Chair of UKIFS, said: “The appointment of the inaugural CEO for UKIFS marks an important milestone as we strive to generate electricity from fusion, which will provide a huge economic opportunity for the UK.

“I look forward to working closely with Paul and the STEP team to ensure the programme stimulates a vibrant industrial base alongside the development of future fusion skills and the global deployment of fusion energy.”

Councillor Keith Girling, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Asset Management, described the wider benefits the project will bring to Nottinghamshire. He said,

“STEP will bring incredible benefits to the county and wider region, including millions, if not billions worth of investment, putting it at the heart of the government’s plans to revolutionise the way we generate energy in the UK.

“The site will be the international hub for carbon-neutral, fusion development, attracting the brightest minds locally and from across the world, creating thousands of highly skilled jobs.”

When a mix of two forms of hydrogen are heated to extreme temperatures – 10 times hotter than the core of the sun – they fuse together to create helium and release huge amounts of energy.

Fusion energy leadership has the potential to provide ‘baseload’ power, complementing renewable and other low carbon energy sources as a share of many countries’ energy portfolios. Achieving this involves working at the forefront of science, engineering, and technology.

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