Ardeer has been named as one of five locations being considered to house a prototype fusion energy plant potentially putting the area at "the forefront of net carbon neutral innovation."

The UK Government and Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) are considering the peninsula as a potential site for a prototype fusion power station known as STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).

The plant should be operational by the early 2040s and could provide thousands of jobs, say the UK Government.

The five shortlisted sites are:


Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire

Moorside, Cumbria

Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire

Severn Edge, Gloucestershire

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “We welcome the news from the UK Atomic Energy Authority that the Ardeer peninsular site has been successful in moving to the next phase of the STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) shortlisting process.

"This represents an exciting possibility for our area to be at the forefront of net carbon neutral innovation.

“Following completion of the Phase 1 assessment, UKAEA has announced that the Ardeer site along with four other locations across the UK will now move forward to the next stage of assessment.

“Ardeer fulfils many of the site selection criteria set out by the UKAEA, including its size, location, connections to transport networks, grid connectivity and access to skills and academic expertise - all of which will have played their part in Ardeer successfully moving into this next phase.

“The UKAEA has indicated that it will begin the next phase of assessment over the coming months, leading to a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in 2022.

“North Ayrshire Council was approached by the University of Glasgow to support a bid to explore the potential for the development of a fusion power plant within the Ardeer peninsular earlier this year, which was also backed by landowners NPL Group.

“The next phase of the rigorous assessment process will consider the likely opportunities and risks associated with deploying STEP at each of the shortlisted sites and involve community engagement to explain the proposals and gather feedback on local priorities, aspirations and concerns.

“STEP, supported by £222m in funding from the UK government, aims to design and construct a prototype fusion energy plant capable of providing a source of zero-carbon energy. The programme is targeting a concept design by 2024, with operations planned to begin around 2040.

“Such cutting-edge technology would bring substantial long-term economic benefits to our area, together with significant supply chain, innovation and educational possibilities.

“We will continue to work constructively with our partners in this process, ahead of the final siting decision and we maintain our commitment to keeping local community groups, organisations and stakeholders well informed as we move through this next stage.”

George Freeman, minister for science, research and innovation, said: "Fusion energy has the potential to be a truly revolutionary and inexhaustible energy source that can help us reduce our dependence on unreliable fossil fuels and tackle climate change.

"By building the foundations to unlock the power of fusion energy, including the location of the UK's first prototype fusion power plant, we are positioning the UK as a global leader in this safe and sustainable power source."

Paul Methven, Step programme director at UKAEA, said: "Through the next phase of assessment, we look forward to working with the shortlisted sites and local communities to gain a more in-depth understanding of the socio-economic, commercial and technical conditions associated with each site, before we make our final recommendations to the secretary of state in 2022."

Fusion creates energy by forcing atoms together whereas standard nuclear reactors rely on fission, the breaking apart of atoms.

Fusion is viewed as safer and cleaner than fission.