Posted on: 7th February 2014
2014 vigorously starts with the implementation of the European roadmap to the realisation of fusion electricity.
This week a two-week long marathon of meetings ended kicking off a package of 25 research topics defined in Europe’s Roadmap to the realisation of fusion electricty published twelve months ago.
Fusion energy is still in the research phase, making it all the more important to focus the European funded part of the programme on areas which are relevant for bringing electricity to the grid. Even more so given the latest BP Energy Outlook prediction of a 40% increase in the demand for electricity by 2035.
Since the publication of the Roadmap, physicists, engineers and administrators all across Europe have been working feverishly to turn paper into reality. EFDA and JET Leader Francesco Romanelli explains: ‘I appreciate the devotion that our colleagues in about 40 laboratories show to face the challenges that come with every change. On our journey from the old EFDA to the establishment of the new Consortium EUROfusion we can built on the profound experience and dedication of the colleagues involved to shape the new fusion research landscape.’
Managing a large scientific team coming potentially from all EU countries, [...] will require creativity and vision. Piero Martin, Project Leader
Project and Task Force Leaders like Piero Martin, Consorzio RFX; Italy, are enthusiastic. He sees the position as a unique opportunity of professional growth. He adds inspired: ‘Managing a large scientific team coming potentially from all EU countries, designing and implementing scientific programs, building consensus, and communicating efficiently will require creativity and vision.’
The accompanying or Medium-Size Tokamak campaigns expand the proven scheme used to operate and exploit JET. The first physics plasma of the Medium-Sized Tokamak campaigns was run yesterday on the tokamak ASDEX Upgrade in Germany.
Darren McDonald, Head of the ITER Physics Department, comments: ‘The programme brings together JET and the other key fusion experimental machines in Europe. These devices will be exploited on the basis of the roadmap’s defined missions using a scheme based on the one under which JET has been working effectively for a long time.’
Francesco Romanelli already looks at the next step towards fusion energy, ITER: ‘The main aim of the roadmap and the re-organisation of the research programme is to make ITER a success.’
Over the last decade the European fusion programme is part of complex and large-scale projects such as building and exploiting the next experiment ITER in international partnership and planning the future demonstration reactor.
These large-scale experiments require a more effective pooling of national research efforts and resources. To meet this challenge, the European laboratories have decided to launch a joint programme through the consortium EUROfusion. EUROfusion aims to realise EFDA’s “Roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy”.
The Joint European Torus, JET, is the world’s largest tokamak and is operated as a common facility for researchers across Europe. Under EUROfusion, three more tokamaks – situated in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Germany – will also be operated in part as common facilities. When it begins operation in 2015 the German stellarator Wendelstein 7-X will also become the focus of European research on stellarator. Two linear devices – one again in Germany and the other in The Netherlands – will test materials from other laboratories and experiments.