Fusion energy and ITER
Could fusion, the energy source of the sun and stars, be the energy of the future? Fusion has the potential to provide a safe, cost-efficient and sustainable solution to European and global energy needs. For this reason, the EU is part of one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world, called ITER in the south of France.
ITER is a unique project to build the world’s biggest fusion machine. By fostering innovation and international collaborations, the project creates economic growth and job opportunities while putting the EU in the lead of global fusion research. Although a purely experimental device, ITER will help advance fusion energy technology for a greener and more sustainable energy mix.
Participation of the EU in ITER
21 July 2020 The European Council agreed on the long-term EU budget 2021-2027, including ITER.
07 June 2018
The Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision on EU funding ITER for the period 2021-2027
17 April 2018
The Council of the EU adopts its conclusions on the communication and reaffirms its continued commitment to the ITER project
14 June 2017
The Commission revises the EU contribution to ITER, in accordance with the baseline
15-16 June 2016
The ITER Council adopts a new baseline of the project and sets the earliest technically available date for the first operation of the machine at December 2025
1 June 2007
The Broader Approach agreement, signed jointly by Japan and the EU, enters into force
19 April 2007
The European body Fusion for Energy (F4E) is established for a period of 35 years
21 November 2006
The ITER agreement is signed by China, South Korea, the United States, India, Japan, Russia and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)
The road to fusion
Fusion science and technology have a long history in Europe and their development was accelerated from 1957 by the Euratom Treaty, which established a European atomic energy community. Since then, European fusion research is better coordinated to make sure that the technology moves forward, as quickly as possible.
European fusion laboratories collaborate through a consortium called EUROfusion, in line with the long-term strategy set out in the European research roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy.
ITER is of key importance in the roadmap, particularly as it aims to prove the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion as a future energy source. Although ITER itself will not produce electricity, DEMO - the device that will follow - will likely model a real future fusion power plant and produce electricity. This in turn will pave the way for future commercialisation and use of fusion power, possibly from 2050 onwards.
ITER governance and funding
The project stems from the ITER agreement, which was signed by China, Euratom (represented by the European Commission), India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA in 2006. Together, they govern the ITER Organization, which is responsible for constructing and managing the project.
Members have a domestic agency that manages their contributions. The EU’s domestic agency is called Fusion for Energy.
The European contribution to ITER is funded from the EU budget; for the period 2021 to 2027 the European Commission has proposed to contribute €6.07 billion to ITER.
The Broader Approach
In parallel to their collaboration on the ITER project, the EU and Japan are working together on three fusion-related projects.
The projects, all located in Japan, aim to complement ITER and accelerate the development of fusion power. The work includes the construction of an advanced fusion device, research into durable materials for use in future devices, and the setting-up of a remote operation room for ITER.
The cooperation was established by the signature of the Broader Approach Agreement in 2007 and a new, second phase of activities is being launched in 2020.
Fusion for Energy and industry engagement
The EU’s domestic agency, Fusion for Energy, established in 2007 and based in Barcelona, Spain, is responsible for delivering Euratom’s contribution to the ITER project and the Broader Approach, and contracts businesses and research organisations in the EU to achieve this.
By participating in ITER, the EU makes substantial investment in European industry. More than €4 billion has already been invested in this way, which has had a strong and positive impact on the European economy in terms of producing economic growth and boosting employment.
Moreover, individual businesses that have produced components and provided services for ITER have reported being able to expand their facilities, upgrade equipment, and hire staff.
- Brochure: The Broader Approach – to ITER and beyond (February 2020)
- Factsheets (October 2019)
- Report: Supporting analysis for an impact assessment on the future funding of EU participation in ITER project and Broader Approach activities under the next MFF (July 2018)
- Report: The European contribution to ITER: achievements and challenges (June 2018)
- Study on the impact of the ITER activities in the EU (April 2018)
- Proposal for a Council Decision to continue to provide a legal basis to funding ITER for 2021-2027 COM(2018) 445 final
- Council conclusions on ITER (12 April 2018)
- European joint undertaking for ITER and the development of fusion energy, 2018/2222/ (INI), European Parliament
- MFF and ITER, TEN/680, European Economic and Social Committee
- EU Contribution to a reformed ITER project communication COM (2017) 319 final
- The ITER project status SWD (2017) 232 final