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Non-nuclear energy

The ERA in Fusion Energy Research

Fission and radiation protection
Fusion
   

The advanced status of integration and its consequent success make fusion a prime example of what can be achieved by a European Research Area (ERA). The long-term importance of fusion as an energy option, the attractiveness of fusion research and the possible benefit for industry means that all Member States and Associated States are participating in the European fusion programme.

Background

FEAT in Cryostat
Controlled thermonuclear fusion has achieved full European integration of all research on magnetic confinement fusion. Furthermore, European-wide co-operation of civil activities in the field of inertial confinement fusion has been established.

By integrating all efforts into a single European programme it was possible to build the JET device which, over the past decades and until today is the most powerful fusion device in the world, paralleled only recently by the Japanese JT-60U.

Around 2000 scientists and engineers are working in the programme in 21 Associations in the Member States and countries which are associated to the Euratom Framework Programme on Fusion. The programme covers all essential areas for the development of fusion power stations.

Today European fusion research is in a leading position world-wide and Europe is the driving force behind the international collaboration in ITER, the next step in fusion for which two European candidate sites as well as a Japanese and a Canadian one have been proposed. Continuing progress in the European (and international) fusion devices confirms the design choices and performance predictions for ITER.

RTD is executed in about ten major laboratories equipped with larger fusion devices or facilities for specific technological studies. Another 60 laboratories are collaborating with these in close networks or even clusters with a sharing of tasks. All Associations are participating in the exploitation of the JET device, which is operated by UKAEA Culham for the entire European fusion programme.

ERA related activities in the Fifth Framework Programme

During FP5 the fusion programme has further increased its networking and clustering character. Several noteworthy examples are:

  • The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) has been concluded between the Commission and its partners, which provides the framework for fusion technology activities, the exploitation of JET by pan-European task forces and the European contributions to international co-operations such as ITER.
  • Clusters around medium-sized devices intensified their collaboration such as the Associations Euratom-FZJ, -Belgian State and -FOM on the TEXTOR device, where the task sharing among the partners was further enhanced by the Dutch Association taking over the domain of high-frequency (electron-cyclotron) heating and the corresponding diagnostics on the machine.
  • At the Association Euratom-IPP, the European character of the ASDEX-Upgrade operation was amplified by implementing a council for the definition and execution of the scientific programme, which includes members from other fusion Associations.
  • ERA related activities in the Sixth Framework Programme. The already strong orientation towards joint projects and focalisation on ITER will be further enhanced.

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