Fusion power is an exciting development for Gloucestershire's economy

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
8th April 2021

It’s great to see all our MPs giving their support to an exciting bid to get the UK’s first fusion power plant built here in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.

Fingers crossed, we are hoping that our Western Gateway partnership bid will lead to that initial power plant being developed at Berkeley, and literally down the road from there at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.

Both these sites, of course, are decommissioned nuclear power stations.

Fusion power is hailed by the experts as the holy grail of energy.

It’s the power that drives our sun, forcing hydrogen ions together to produce to produce huge amounts of energy.

Now, the UK Atomic Energy Authority wants to harness that power on earth.

It’s called STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) with the government supporting it over the next five years to the tune of £220million.

Our bid was submitted a week ago and we will know if we are still in the race in May with a final decision by government in December next year.

If our bid is successful, the plant would create thousands of jobs throughout the region.

The Gloucestershire site at Berkeley is owned by the SGS College Group, which runs South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

And their chief executive, Kevin Hamblin, is excited by the prospect of the fusion project.

Already, Berkeley has over a dozen companies on the site-operating on what he calls the “new industries”, such as low carbon, digital and sustainable construction.

The University of Gloucestershire are there too with the new Gloucestershire police training centre.

“In the 1960s, Berkeley was one of the most advanced scientific research establishments”, Kevin told me.

“What I would like to see now is that the Berkeley site once again becomes that innovative and research establishment that it was in the 1960s with nuclear.”

We have everything crossed for May!

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