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As decision looms – Industry giants back bid to bring Fusion to the Severn

As decision looms – Industry giants back bid to bring Fusion to the Severn

International industry giants including Toshiba, Thales and Renishaw have announced their support in bringing the UK’s first prototype fusion plant to the Severn Estuary.

23 May 2022

Together, the companies employ over 200,000 people worldwide and specialise in high tech and cyber solutions.

United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is currently looking for a home for its flagship Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme which is looking to prove the commercial viability of fusion energy. 
Fusion has been described as having the potential to become the “ultimate low carbon energy” source, recreating the reaction that takes place within the sun.

The Western Gateway partnership, the economic powerhouse for South Wales and Western England, is leading a bid to bring fusion to Severn Edge. Severn Edge spans two sites in South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire next to the M4 Severn Bridge to Wales. The site is now in the final five sites being considered by government with a decision expected soon.

Known to be the only bid in the running which can bridge two countries within the UK, 28 businesses and organisations have already written to UKAEA to demonstrate their support. They celebrated the impact the site could bring to the Western Gateway region and the rest of the UK. 
Mahesh Sooriyabandara, Managing Director for Toshiba Research Europe, Will Lee, Chief Executive for Renishaw, and Tony Burton Director of Cyber Security & Trust at Thales all voiced their “strong support” for bringing STEP to the area.

Tony added: “We passionately believe that bringing STEP to the Severn region will ensure it has the industrial and scientific capabilities, as well as the existing and future skills capacity it needs to be successful.”

Phil Smith, Managing Director for Business West, a coalition representing 24,000 South West businesses, said in a letter to UKAEA “By connecting STEP to our world class science and innovation eco-system in digital, cyber, construction and high value manufacturing, we passionately believe that the South West and Wales have the capabilities, capacity and talented workforce to make the vision for STEP a reality.”

Already the bid has received support from four of the most research intensive universities in the UK, businesses, political leaders and the community.

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway partnership, said: “We know that the Western Gateway area offers the national STEP Programme the best possible access to the most advanced technical skills and expert supply chains to ensure the UK is world-leading in developing this clean energy solution.

“Our site in Severn Edge is unique in benefitting two countries across the union offering opportunities to level up communities in Wales and England that are at severe risk of being left behind. STEP would mean billions of pounds worth of investment and is part of the work our partnership is doing to develop our area as a Green Energy Super Cluster driving the UK’s transition to Net Zero.” 

More information about the STEP bid and the partnership is available on the Western Gateway website: www.western-gateway.co.uk 

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