Posted on: 27th January 2017
One of the consequences of the UK voting to leave the European Union is UK’s withdrawal from the Euratom treaty; and this has been confirmed in the statement presented by the UK government to the parliament. Although the withdrawal from Euratom brings in uncertainty to the future of the Joint European Torus (JET), EUROfusion’s flagship experiment, located at the Culham Center of Fusion Energy (CCFE) in Oxfordshire, the UK government has indicated strong interest in continuing collaboration in nuclear research. “The UK is a world leader in nuclear research and development and there is no intention to reduce our ambition in this important area. The UK fully recognises the importance of international collaboration in nuclear research and development and we will ensure this continues by seeking alternative arrangements,” the government said in the statement. In any case, the current contract to operate JET runs until 2018, so the short-term future of JET is secure.
“On the side of EUROfusion we will do everything possible to continue the very good relation we have with CCFE, which is a key player in the European fusion programme,” says EUROfusion Programme Manager Prof. Tony Donné. He stresses that the European collaboration in fusion research has made JET the success it is today.
Researchers, engineers and technicians working at JET come from all over Europe, and currently, JET operations receive funding of €69 million, 87.5% of which is provided by the European Commission and 12.5% by the UK. It is the only existing fusion device capable of operating with the deuterium-tritium fuel, which will be the fusion fuel of the future. And, experiments carried out at JET are important foundations to the fusion experiment ITER, which is currently being built in Cadarache, France. “Naturally, the European fusion community is extremely interested to see a continuation of the JET programme,” says Prof. Donné.
JET operations receive funding of €69 million, 87.5% of which is provided by the European Commission and 12.5% by the UK. It is the only existing fusion device capable of operating with the deuterium-tritium fuel, which will be the fusion fuel of the future.
“Apart from JET there is also a large interest to continue the collaboration with CCFE in other areas. MAST Upgrade is one of EUROfusion’s three Medium-Sized Tokamaks and the European Fusion Community is eagerly looking forward to the first campaigns with the upgraded device, that are foreseen in the fall of 2017,” he adds.
In his statement to UK Atomic Energy Authority CEO Ian Chapman, Prof. Donné says, “from our side we will do everything possible to find ways to continue our successful collaboration and to push for an extension of JET, at least until 2020, but certainly also beyond. We also will do our best to find smooth and adequate solutions for the people that are affected by the UK withdrawing from Euratom.”