From the 1st to 6th of November 2004 the Instituto Superior Técnico through Centro de Fusão Nuclear on behalf of the Portuguese Government and the Association EURATOM/IST hosted the “20th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference” in Vilamoura (Portugal). The Fusion Energy Conference is the main meeting for fusion research worldwide, and attracts delegates and contributions from most countries involved in fusion energy research. This year, 597 delegates representing 33 countries and 3 international organisations participated to the conference.

The meeting took place in Vilamoura, a small holiday town on the South coast of Portugal. The conference venue was perfect to host such a large event, with a main hall were all oral contributions were presented, as well as poster contributions, which were presented in parallel to the oral sessions. The Fusion Expo exhibition was also on display for the whole duration of the conference, and local schools were invited to a guided tour during the week.

The Conference proceedings were opened by welcome speeches by Dr. W. Burkart (Deputy Director of IAEA), Prof. Carlos Varandas (Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee), Mr. Pedro Sampaio Nunes (Portuguese Secretary of State for Science and Innovation) and Prof. Kaw (Chairman of the Programme Committee) followed by 3 contributions to the traditional “Fusion Pioneers” section: these were delivered by Dr. C.M. Ferreira (Portugal), Prof. Sir C. Llewellyn-Smith (UKAEA) and Dr. Y. Shimomura (ITER). Dr. Ferreira expressed the strong support of the Portuguese Government to fusion research, and to ITER in particular. Support to ITER and to a vision for the fast realisation of fusion for energy productions (the so-called “fast track to fusion”) was the main theme of the strong and enthusiastic talk of Sir Llewellyn-Smith. In his speech, he conveyed to the audience both the challenge and the rewards that the final development of fusion energy will bring about to humankind in the near future. Finally, Dr. Shimomura gave a thorough update of the status of the ITER project, highligh-ting the progress towards licensing and construction of the device, as well as the technical and organisational challenges ahead of this ambitious international project.

The summary of the results obtained in the main research laboratories and experiments since the last Fusion Energy Conference (Lyon, France, 2002) were presented in the overview sessions that took place in the first two days of the conference. The rest of the week was dedicated to presentations of talks and posters describing more detailed and specific results of fusion research in the last two years. As customary, the Conference closed with five summary talks, collecting and contrasting all major results and contributions presented during the week. Finally, the conference adjourned with the announcement of the next IAEA Fusion Energy Conference, that will be held for the first time in China, in the city of Chengdu, October 16-22, 2006.

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Instituto Superior Técnico

Centro de Fusão Nuclear