EXPERTS have arrived at an area in Ardeer that could potentially house a brand new nuclear power plant.

The next phase of assessments for nuclear energy at the site on the Ardeer peninsula comes after the Scottish Government said that there would be no more nuclear power plants built in Scotland under current technologies.

Ardeer was placed on a five-location shortlist to house a prototype nuclear fusion plant, dubbed “Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) plant”, and officials from the UK Atomic Energy Authority have paid a second visit to the Ardeer site to build their understanding of the site’s potential to host STEP as they make their final deliberations ahead of an announcement, expected next spring.

The bid for the North Ayrshire site is being led by the Fusion Forward (Ardeer) consortium, which represents NPL Group, which owns the land, North Ayrshire Council and the University of Glasgow, and is expected to create thousands of highly-skilled jobs during construction and operations, and to attract other high-tech industries to the selected location.

Declan Diver, Professor of Plasma Physics at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, helped to prepare the bid for STEP to be based at Ardeer.

He said: “I’m pleased to have been part of the group which welcomed our visitors from the UKAEA to the Ardeer site. STEP has the potential to bring a wide range of benefits to the central belt of Scotland, and as a plasma physicist myself I’m excited about the potential it has to deliver new opportunities in research, training and education.

“Coming so soon after COP26, it was also encouraging to see progress towards the kind of clean fusion energy generation that could help us achieve net-zero in the years to come.”

Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We were pleased to help facilitate the visit which allowed officials from the UK Atomic Energy Authority to see for themselves the size, location, connections to transport networks, grid connectivity and access to skills and academic expertise which Ardeer has to offer.

“We look forward to welcoming them back to North Ayrshire soon for a further site visit as the deliberations continue.”

The Scottish Energy Strategy, published in December 2017, confirmed the Scottish Government’s continued opposition to new nuclear stations, under current technologies, however the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is hoping to have the plant operating in the early 2040s, with initial aims to produce a concept design by 2024.