An industry view on the Roadmap to the realisation of Fusion Energy

The ITER project is under construction and the fusion programme needs to now focus its activities on the longer-term goal of a first demonstration fusion power plant (DEMO) by 2050 and enabling a subsequent industry driven development of fusion energy. Currently, most of the programme resources are spent on research with the short-term objective of demonstrating the viability of fusion as a potential power source. However, in order to align the programme to meet the objectives of DEMO, industrial considerations should also be incorporated into the design activities. This is why industry should work closely with the research community from the very start of the process.

The Fusion Industry Innovation Forum (FIIF) was set up by the European Commission in 2010 with a threefold mission: to support the fusion research community in the development of the DEMO design by providing input from an industrial point of view, to foster the technology transfer from fusion to other industrial sectors and to develop the skills needed for the exploitation of a future commercial fusion power plant. The forum represents both large multinational companies and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) from a variety of sectors having experience in fusion technology and plant design. The management board, composed of 16 members, meets twice a year, together with representatives of EFDA, F4E and the European Commission. Three working groups have been set up, each focusing on one of the three missions of the forum.

From the very beginning, FIIF was actively involved in the formulation of the Roadmap, in particular Annex 12 on industrial involvement which was substantially based on its input. A dedicated working group focuses on the Roadmap and maintains regular information exchange with the EFDA Department on Power Plant Physics & Technology through its representatives on the Advisory Board. Members of the FIIF Management Board also participate in the FUSENET Association where they help define the skills needed for the new generation of fusion scientists and engineers. A recent output has been the recommendation to the European Commission to start a pilot project in technology transfer (FUTTA). Finally, FIIF has also started to play a consultative role for F4E.

picture: AMEC

picture: AMEC

Experience from advanced fission projects in the past, such as Phenix developed by an integrated CEA/ EDF/ industry team, highlight the importance of close cooperation with the nuclear industry. Phenix was designed as both an experimental reactor and a power plant to precede the commercial scale successor. The positive results from this and other similar projects show the benefit of involving industry early on in the process. We should strive to achieve the same degree of integration in the fusion programme, especially when preparing to move on to DEMO.

In the four years of existence of FIIF, we have been proud to be able to play an ever increasing role in the fusion programme. For the future, we hope to be able to establish close ties with the EUROfusion consortium and continue to integrate industrial philosophy for the successful delivery of a practical and operational DEMO design. The Roadmap not only addresses the technical challenges for the realisation of fusion energy but also provides a blueprint for a new role for industry.

Alain Chevalier is Chairman of the Fusion Industry Innovation Forum representing AMEC of the UK.
He has coordinated AMEC activities in advanced fission reactor development (Gen IV and associated European programmes) and fusion (ITER and broader fusion programme) over a number of years. Mr Chevalier is a member of the Board of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), the Research Councils UK Fusion Advisory Board and member of the Board of European Fusion Engineering & Technology (EFET) European Economic Interest Grouping. He is currently Business Development Director for AMEC Clean Energy Europe focussing on International nuclear new build projects.
Alain Chevalier is a Mechanical Engineering graduate with a Masters in Reactor Physics and Technology from the University of Birmingham. He has over 35 years experience in the UK and International nuclear power sector.