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Non-nuclear energy

Towards the future fusion power plant

Fission and radiation protection

An interdisciplinary and international programme, fusion research’s progress depends on leading-edge research in many different areas and requires a sustained long-term effort on a large scale. The success to date shows that it is possible to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power with one further major experiment.

Increasing fusion power

Increasing fusion power

Until now, there have been three generations of experimental fusion devices. Two further generations of devices are currently needed on the road to commercial power generation by fusion.


This experiment – under construction in Cadarache, southern France – will be the foundation stone of a future fusion power station. ITER is a multinational collaboration between the EU (represented by EURATOM), Japan, the People’s Republic of China, India, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA.

Its design has passed through a number of phases, with the original conceptual design being developed during 1988–90 followed by the engineering design activities (1992–98). The design was completed in July 2001 and reviewed in June 2008 to take account of the R&D results and technological developments in the intervening period.

The ITER design was underpinned by a large research programme that has established its practical feasibility and involved construction of full-scale prototypes for its major components. This has provided the confidence that ITER can be built and operate as planned.

In November 2006 the official signing ceremony of the ITER Joint Implementation Agreement took place in Paris, giving birth to the ITER International Organisation. The construction of ITER began in 2008.

ITER is designed to:

  • produce thermal fusion power equivalent to 500 MW with a power amplification of 10 (the energy produced will be 10 times the energy put in)
  • test long-duration burning plasma looking forward to continuous operation
  • test technologies and components essential for a fusion reactor.

DEMO – the demonstration reactor

Integrating the optimised performance from ITER, this next machine will be a demonstration fusion power plant.

DEMO will be designed to:

  • produce thermal fusion power approaching levels relevant for commercial power production
  • have the capability of net electricity production
  • demonstrate tritium self-sufficiency
  • demonstrate high reliability and the performance of low-activation materials.

Schematic of a fusion power plant

Schematic of a fusion power plant