A bid to host the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) prototype fusion power plant was submitted by the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) in March.
This has now been included in a list of 15 sites for further investigation by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), who launched the open call in December 2020.
If the Caithness bid is successful, the development could create hundreds of high-quality jobs locally, drive wider economic growth and attract further investment to the region.
Fusion technology is being developed worldwide as a transformational source of low carbon energy. It seeks to replicate the energy production process of the sun by fusing hydrogen into helium, producing huge amounts of clean energy, with virtually no emissions or waste.
The development would ultimately produce electricity for the national grid and could be instrumental in achieving Scotland’s net-zero targets and a carbon neutral economy.
Ian Ross, chair of the CNSRP, said:
“This is a great opportunity for Caithness and North Sutherland. We already have significant expertise in highly regulated technically challenging developments. We also have an existing supply chain, a welcoming community and support from all CNSRP member organisations.
“The fusion prototype development would dovetail perfectly with the decommissioning of Dounreay and complement our area’s existing wind and tidal forms of renewable energy generation.
“All of this and more means Caithness is ideally placed to host this development and make sure it delivers widespread long-term economic and community benefits, as well as wider progress towards the country’s net zero targets.
“I am delighted we have made it to the next stage and look forward to working with the UKAEA on evaluating our bid.”