Posted on: 9th July 2014

After months of preparation, the European Commission and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy signed the operation contract for Europe’s largest fusion experiment.

JETVessel Interior viewed from Octant 1 Port at the end of the 2012/13 Tile Exchange Shutdown - May 2013

The picture shows the inside of the JET plasma chamber

Since 2000, JET operation was being carried out under the auspices of the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). According to the in 2014 newly implemented EU fusion research structure, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) will operate the JET facility under contract from the European Commission.
JET operation will be provided as an in-kind contribution to the EUROfusion Consortium, which is responsible for implementing the coordinated programme under a separate grant agreement with the Commission.

Lorne Horton, Head of the JET Exploitation Unit at JET, comments: ’I am pleased that we have been able to get this contract in place and expect that CCFE will continue to provide a first class facility for the community’s use. I am confident that JET will continue to provide crucial and unique input to ITER.’ ITER represents the next generation fusion experiment and will start operation in the early 2020’s.

The €283 million contract represents the largest in the history of JET with an unprecedented duration of five years. Tony Donné, Manager of the European Joint Programme is also satisfied with the finalisation of the contract: ’The fact that we can now rely on a five year contract until the end of 2018, makes it easier for us and CCFE to fulfil the goal defined in the new EU framework programme. That is to deliver what is agreed on in the ‘Roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy’.


EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 sets the budget for the next period from 2014 to 2020. EURATOM – under which fusion and fission research is covered – is part of Horizon 2020. Due to a different legal basis, EURATOM’s budget is limited to five year periods; from 2014-2018. The yearly fusion budget amounts in that period to 145.6 Million Euro/year.

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 – are 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 stellarators. One tokamak in France and various linear devices – in Germany and The Netherlands – will test materials from other laboratories and experiments.

ITER (latin for “the way”) is an international Tokamak research and engineering project designed to prove the scientific and technological feasibility of a full-scale fusion power reactor. It is currently being built in France.

Over the last decades, the European fusion programme has advanced to the point of requiring complex and large-scale projects, the most recent of which being the construction and operation of ITER in international partnership.
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 is the successor of EFDA. The consortium aims to realise EFDA’s “Roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy”.