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What's covered by the Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion Key Action?
Information last updated
on 23 March 2002
The availability of secure, sustainable and competitive sources of energy is essential to economic growth, prosperity and quality of life in the industrialised world. Economic progress in the developing world will lead to major increases in global energy demand, with possible implications for fuel prices, and could have adverse effects on health and the environment. These problems can only be mitigated through concerted international effort to develop promising technologies. In view of the expected growth in demand for energy, continuing use will need to be made of all potential sources. Nuclear energy makes a significant contribution to the policy of diversifying energy supply and reducing overall emissions of CO2 .
The long-term objective of fusion activities, embracing in a single programme all the activities of the Member States (plus Switzerland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic) aimed at harnessing fusion, is the joint creation of prototype reactors for power stations to meet the needs of society: operational safety, environmental compatibility, economic viability. As a result of collaboration between fusion laboratories throughout Europe the Joint European Torus (JET), the biggest installation of its kind in the world, was built, enabling Europe to assume a leading position worldwide in the development of fusion that no single Member State could have aspired to on its own. Since 01.01.2000, the scientific programme of JET has been the responsibility of EFDA, while the UKAEA is charged with its operation.
Within the context of this long-term objective set out in the fifth framework programme, the aim of this key action is to further develop the necessary basis for the possible construction of an experimental reactor (the Next Step), with the objective of demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power production as well as its potential safety and environmental benefits. In the longer term, it will prepare for the development of a demonstration reactor (DEMO). This activity will be accompanied by relevant physics and technology R&D activities, also involving European industry. In the context of this strategy, the prospect of constructing an experimental reactor should be pursued within the framework of international cooperation such as the international ITER project. This key action should thus enhance the Community's preparedness, from a scientific, technical, financial and organisational point of view, to decide on and support such a future experimental reactor.
The contribution of fusion to safe and clean base-load electricity generation will be investigated in the wider context of studies on the socioeconomic aspects of fusion. The mobility and training of scientific and technical personnel; the dissemination of results and the diffusion of information to the public will be an integral part of this key action.