Nuclear fusion energy is produced by fusing together light atoms, such as hydrogen, at extremely high temperatures – around 150 million ºC – and elevated pressures, in a process like the nuclear reactions that power the sun and stars. These conditions are reached by heating the atoms with high-energy particles and waves and then by the energy produced by the reaction. Fusion energy has the potential to provide a sustainable solution to European and global energy needs as it releases short-lived radioactive waste and uses raw materials that are widely present in nature.
To explore the creation of energy by nuclear fusion, the ITER Agreement setting up the ITER Organisation was signed in Paris in 2006 by China, South Korea, the United States, India, Japan, Russia and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). In June 2017 the Commission set out a revised schedule and budget estimate for the EU's participation in the ITER project.
The ITER Organisation established the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in the south of France to demonstrate nuclear fusion energy. The ITER Organisation has the overall responsibility for the construction, operation, use and de-activation of the ITER facilities.
Fusion for Energy (F4E) coordinates the European Union's contribution to ITER and the development of fusion energy. The organisation was created under the Euratom Treaty by a decision of the Council of the European Union.
The EU also has a nuclear fusion agreement with Japan known as Broader Approach (BA). BA's activities are fusion activities carried out in Japan under an agreement signed jointly by Euratom and Japan in June 2007. BA’s activities comprise three projects in Japan:
- IFMIF/EVEDA - the Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities for the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility based in Rokkasho
- IFERC - the International Fusion Energy Research Centre based in Rokkasho
- STP - the Satellite Tokamak Programme (Tokamak JT60SA) based in Naka.