Solar, so good, for UK fusion

December 10, 1999

The European effort to harness the power of the sun has been taken over by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. The transfer of ownership of the Joint European Torus at Culham in Oxfordshire will encourage university scientists to play a more significant role in fusion research, writes Steve Farrar.

While the operation of the JET facilities will be undertaken by the UKAEA, the scientific programme will continue to be conducted by a European team led by Jerome Pamela.

Representatives of European Union member countries and the European Commission signed an agreement last week which will give JET a further Pounds 1 billion of funding over the next three years.

Derek Robinson, head of the Euratom/UKAEA Fusion Association, said: "The development of our most successful fusion device to date, the tokamak, has reached the stage where a 'next step' device of power plant grade could be constructed with confidence that it would produce a sustained burning plasma with high energy gain."

Building a fusion reactor that produces more power than it needs to function - a point that JET has approached but is unlikely to ever reach - is seen as the answer to the world's growing energy requirements.

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