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Fusion roadmap outlines priorities for Horizon 2020

The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) has set out its plans for nuclear fusion research under Horizon 2020, including a detailed timeline of progress for the Jet and Iter fusion facilities.

According to the document, Horizon 2020 funding should focus on building the Iter fusion reactor in France on time and within budget, whilst continuing preparatory experiments at the Jet facility in the UK. Under Horizon 2020, around 60 per cent of fusion funding and two-thirds of human resources in the field should be allocated towards completing Iter, says the roadmap. The remainder should be allocated towards Jet operations, research and training.

The document foresees an almost seamless transition between the two facilities, whereby Jet operates until 2019 after which Iter commissioning and initial operations would begin in 2020. Speaking to Research Europe Today, Francesco Romanelli, leader of EFDA and Jet, says at present the expectation is that Jet will continue until at least 2017, which ideally will be extended to prevent a large gap between the end of Jet and the start of Iter.

“In the roadmap we are proposing to secure resources for Jet until the end of Horizon 2020, but this will materialise only if we will be able to involve international collaborators and the Iter organisation itself more closely in Jet,” says Romanelli.

EFDA’s roadmap sets out eight research priorities, or “missions”, to be addressed under Horizon 2020. These scientific challenges, such as the development of a material to withstand neutron bombardment and formulating a safe design for a fusion power plant, will need to be solved to achieve the aim of generating electricity from nuclear fusion by 2050.

The document also highlights a need to increase training and education in nuclear fusion under Horizon 2020 to ensure adequate expertise in this area. The training scheme, called “Generation Iter”, should target 300 PhD students in fusion and an equivalent number of engineers during the duration of the framework programme, says the roadmap.

Romanelli highlights that the success of the roadmap relies on the adequate allocation of resources for fusion in the on-going EU budget and Horizon 2020 negotiations. “Obviously if the budget is lower than expected, we will have to prioritise the various items,” he says. “However, the fusion community has made quite an effort to focus activities around a selected number of goals… and I hope that we will be able to convince member states to maintain the proposed level of resources,” he says.