Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, and Minister for Nuclear and Renewables, Andrew Bowie, announce industry competition to find engineering and construction partners for the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant.  

STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) aims to demonstrate net energy from fusion, stimulating commercialisation of a new low-carbon energy source to help tackle climate change and meet future global energy demand. 

Industry will be the driving force behind fusion becoming part of the world’s future energy supply, as the search for engineering and construction partners to design and build the UK’s prototype fusion plant is announced by Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, and Minister for Nuclear and Renewables, Andrew Bowie, today.  

Launching on 22 May 2024, the multi-stage competition will seek to find industry partners – one in engineering and one in construction – to form a world-leading public-private alliance led by UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd (UKIFS), a wholly owned subsidiary of UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) Group, to deliver the STEP prototype fusion plant.  

UKAEA will be one of the three ‘Whole Plant Partners’ to STEP contributing specialised expertise and resources as part of the integrated alliance with the two successful bidders. 

STEP will be built at West Burton, the site of a former coal-fired power station site in Nottinghamshire and aims to demonstrate net energy from fusion in the 2040s. 

Intended to be long-term partnerships, the successful engineering and construction partners would be awarded contracts late 2025 / early 2026, worth an initial combined value of hundreds of millions of pounds in the initial contract period until 2029. The contracts will be phased, building progressively in-line with the development of the prototype plant. 

 A crucial part of STEP’s mission is to develop a world-leading fusion supply chain to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of a new technology and emerging industry. 

 The programme aims to pave the way for the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world.  

 Minister for Nuclear and Renewables, Andrew Bowie, said:  

“Fusion could provide a near limitless source of energy and the UK is leading the way in trying to harness this power and deliver long-term energy independence.  

“Building STEP is a major opportunity for the sector and will provide investment and jobs in a former industrial area of Nottinghamshire.” 

Paul Methven, CEO, UK Industrial Fusion Solutions, said:  

“The launch of our STEP procurement for engineering and construction partners will be a critical milestone on the journey to demonstrate and then commercialise fusion energy.  
“Our industrial model will combine the best of public and private sectors in an integrated alliance to drive economic and industrial opportunities for the UK on a significant scale.  

“Together with our partners, we will leverage the UK’s internationally renowned status in fusion research and development to lead the delivery of a fusion energy sector that will help meet the global energy demand in the second half of this century.” 

Following the appointment of these strategic partners, will flow a vast range of other opportunities for the broader supply chain, details of this will unfold in due course. 

STEP provides an enormous opportunity as a catalyst for growth and regeneration for communities surrounding the West Burton power station site, announced as STEP’s home in October 2022.   

 The programme will create thousands of highly skilled jobs during construction and operations, as well as attracting other high-tech industries to the Midlands region.  

 Fusion energy has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come.  

 Sometimes described as the ultimate energy source, fusion is based on the same processes that power the Sun and stars. When a mix of two types of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) are heated to form a plasma that’s 10 times hotter than the core of the Sun, they fuse together to create helium and release huge amounts of energy.  

 STEP’s Whole Plant Partner procurement will be live from the 22 May. Once the initial stage of the selection process is complete, UKIFS will enter detailed discussions with shortlisted companies.  

In preparation for the procurement launch, STEP’s Commercial Team will host a final pre-procurement launch webinar on Wednesday 15 May at 10.00am, led by Sho Dutta, STEP Director of Supply Chain and Commercial. To register for this webinar – please click here.

 To sign-up for updates about STEP, visit: