Posted on: 12th May 2010

picture of Francesco Romanelli

Francesco Romanelli, EFDA Associate Leader for JET

On March 23rd, the EFDA Steering Committee appointed Francesco Romanelli to the role of EFDA Leader. For the time being, he will also remain the EFDA Associate Leader for JET. Read more about his future plans.

? Francesco, what is your strategy for EFDA?
Francesco Romanelli:“EFDA should implement goal-oriented activities in which the resources of a single Association are sub critical and the coordination role of EFDA is able to bring obvious added value and also facilitate and promote the emergence of scientific excellence. JET is an example of an activity that could not be performed without EFDA coordination, but we need to look towards future activities in other areas, such as DEMO and the satellite programme.”

? Which DEMO related tasks do you see implemented under EFDA?
Francesco:“Europe needs to start working on the conceptual study of DEMO as soon as possible. Other ITER partners have already established much clearer ideas on what DEMO should be like. The conceptual design activity for DEMO should be carried out within the EFDA system, along with the qualification of the main technologies and pre-qualification of industry. At a later date, the engineering design activity, such as prototype building, and the construction of the machine should be carried out by F4E.”

? Can you specify the tasks of EFDA within the satellite programme?
Francesco:“European scientists should start getting involved in the preparation of the JT- 60SA exploitation right now. Construction is obviously under the responsibility of F4E, but the preparation of the exploitation should be carried out under EFDA. The possible construction of a European satellite is a related factor. Following on from the results of the Group of Experts on the Satellite Tokamak, EFDA will have to investigate the feasibility of such a device. These are the two areas in the satellite programme that EFDA should be addressing.”

? It sounds as if you are foreseeing a larger EFDA in the future?
Francesco:“Yes, we should increase the activities within EFDA, focusing on issues where the role that EFDA plays is essential because it brings added value as a result of coordination, which is the case in areas where a single Association is subcritical.”

? Where do you see the future challenges for EFDA?
Francesco:”The future challenges for EFDA lie in the ability to mobilise a significant amount of resources from the European Commission and the Associations in order to achieve well defined goals. The original spirit of EFDA implies that Associations and the Commission jointly define the fields in which they wish to invest and agree on the resources that all partners are prepared to make available in order to achieve this goal. EFDA has been successful in achieving this with JET and the High Performance Computing Implementing Agreements and should be capable of doing so in the areas that I have mentioned above.”

? How do you see the future cooperation of F4E and EFDA?
Francesco:“There should be a lot of synergies between F4E and EFDA. EFDA is prepared to help F4E with all the support that might be required for when it comes to the construction of ITER. The important point is that we see EFDA and F4E as complementary organisations in which F4E has the duty of bringing forward project oriented activities, such as the ITER construction, and in which EFDA is capable of conducting goal oriented activities with a more programmatic value.”

? What challenges and opportunities lie in your current position as both EFDA leader and Associate Leader for JET?
Francesco:”I think the opportunities are very important because holding both positions means that I can ensure maximum integration within the EFDA programme. There are a number of examples in all programmatic areas where EFDA is active and in which we need to maximise synergies with the view to maintaining a single forum for programmatic discussion within EFDA.

? At the next meeting of the Steering Committee you will propose a new structure for the EFDA top management – what are your objectives?
Francesco:”I think the important point is the effectiveness of the organisation. Even more important is that both Associations and the European Commission are willing to invest both financial resources and good scientists and engineers in EFDA thus leading to projects within the EFDA system. With good organisation and good people in place, I think the challenges can easily be solved. Speaking of good people:

Does fusion attract enough young scientists? The scientific challenges posed by fusion are certainly attractive to scientists. EFDA has an ambitious programme designed to train around forty young professionals per year by means of fellowships and goal oriented training. It is necessary to do this because we need to educate the generation that will be first in line to exploit ITER and then build DEMO.”