The European Commission has just published a call for proposals for the ‘Euratom Fusion Training Scheme' – a new training programme aimed at boosting European fusion energy research, particularly in light of the imminent construction of the first international large-scale fusion experiment – ITER – in Cadarache, France.
The need to develop alternative, safe, environment friendly and reliable sources of energy is becoming increasingly pressing as the world faces growing evidence of climate change, mounting energy demands and increasing scarcity of fossil fuels.
|Putting the power of stars to use, EU fusion research hopes one day to meet the energy needs of a growing world population.|
© European Commission's Energy Research website
Fusion energy, the power source of the Sun and other stars, is a promising and exciting option. Research in this field still has some way to go, but fusion could provide a clean, safe and practically inexhaustible source of energy for future generations.
The scale of research needed, however, is such that it can only be effectively undertaken at an international level. ITER is based on a close collaboration between the EU, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By pooling resources globally, ITER is able to harness the best technological and scientific expertise to provide a global response to a global challenge.
During the Union's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research and technological development, which runs from 2002 to 2006, the Community will contribute €750 million to fusion research, including the early steps of the construction of ITER.
Knowledge hungry world
Europe is a world leader in fusion energy research and its Fusion Energy Research programme is an excellent example of European co-operation and the benefits of a strong European Research Area (ERA). But highly qualified researchers in the field are needed to guarantee successful scientific or technological development. With the recent decision to site ITER in Europe, it is critically important to maintain – and further develop – the specialised skills needed for fusion energy research.
This is why the Commission has launched a new training scheme aimed at enhancing Europe's expertise in this area. The call for proposals for the Euratom Fusion Training Scheme was published on 4 October 2005. With a budget of €8 million, it will support 100 person years of training in the field of fusion energy research. Open to consortia ready to be involved in the European fusion programme, it is inviting proposals for joint training programmes accessible to experienced researchers, post-graduates and engineers. The deadline for the submission of proposals is 31 January 2006.
Projects are expected to provide top-quality training in fusion technology, preparing young researchers to participate in the ITER project and the European fusion programme. It is hoped that, in addition to developing Europe's expertise in this field, the scheme will help to strengthen collaborations between research organisations, integrate researchers from the new Member States and promote the transfer of knowledge and know-how between research laboratories and industry in a wide range of fusion science and technology fields.
All this, the Commission hopes, will also reinforce the ERA and help the EU meet demands for more human resources in the sciences. It also underpins other research training and mobility schemes organised by the Union, such as Marie Curie Actions and the Researchers' Mobility portal, and the European Researchers 2005 initiatives.