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Construction partner sought for £10bn nuclear build

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A construction partner is being sought to deliver a £10bn nuclear fusion plant in the UK.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) posted a prior information notice to contractors for the work as part of its plans to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor. The tender is expected in December.

The chosen contractor will work with the project’s engineering partner, Atkins, and UKAEA as the fusion partner in an integrated delivery team.

A location for the fusion plant has not yet been finalised.

Known as Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) Tranche 2a, the nuclear programme will replace the preceding phase, Tranche 1, which ends in April 2024. Subject to approval, the next phase will begin soon after.

The winning contractor will work with the wider STEP leadership to shape the design for constructability and develop the strategy. This will focus on cost, schedule, safety and sustainability.

All site plans, the management of the construction supply chain, and the procurement and sourcing decision will also be handled by the construction partner.

It will also be responsible for the construction of all buildings on the site in what has been described as a “major multi-project construction phase”.

The laboratory buildings, research and testing facilities, and construction for the power plants, heating plants and nuclear plant will need to be delivered with the highest safety standards.

Nuclear fusion plants cost less to operate than those run on nuclear fission because they produce less reactive waste, which is costly to store safely. But the development of these types of energy plants is more complex and still progressing.

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Earlier this month, Construction News visited a nuclear fusion research centre in Oxfordshire to understand how contractors may be involved in these types of projects in the future.

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