Supplementary memorandum submitted by
FOR UK FUSION
The vision is one in which Culham:
is a key site in the "fast track"
development of power from fusion as a clean widespread base-load
progressively expands its programme
on the materials and technology research required for power generation,
whilst maintaining a strong core programme in those areas of plasma
science necessary for the success of the "fast track";
promotes the involvement of UK industry
and universities in the development of fusion power to put the
UK in a strong position to benefit from its eventual commercial
The UK is fortunate in having at the Culham
Science Centre in Oxfordshire world-leading skills needed to operate
and exploit fusion devices. This is partly because, largely at
others' expense, it operates JET
and participates in its research programmeJET is Europe's
flagship device and the only one worldwide to use the deuterium-tritium
fuel mix. Another lead is in the spherical tokamak concepttested
at Culham on the MAST devicewhich has the potential to
be both a suitable device for testing fusion power plant components
and, in the longer-term, a high-power-density power station in
its own right. These projects are carried out in an efficient,
effective and safe manner using UKAEA's well-established management
The international ITER project will allow fusion
development to move from concentrating on plasma science to integrating
this science with the technology necessary for a power plant.
In parallel, as part of the "fast track" to fusion power,
the candidate materials must be tested in the IFMIF facility under
the sustained neutron bombardment conditions typical of a fusion
Our present expectation is that JET will continue
to operate until the end of 2005. Beyond then it will reduce or
stop completely as European funding switches to ITER construction.
Culham's fusion income will fall to a quarter of its present level
unless there is additional funding (see Annex). Since fusion expertise
resides as much in JET operations as in the UK programme, it will
be very difficult to retain it all when JET operations end. Before
then, it is important to have a long-term plan for how the UK
can retain its leading position. This plan should include preparing
UK industry for the eventual commercialisation of fusion power.
UKAEA believes that Culham's programme should
be aligned to the greatest extent practicable with the fast track
approach to fusion power. Specifically, it should:
A. Do everything possible to keep ITER on
track and maximise its cost-effectiveness.
Maintain and train the experimental,
theoretical and engineering skills which will be needed to use
ITER, so that when operations start ITER "hits the ground
running" with strong UK involvement.
Build some of the essential heating,
measurement and plasma control systems for ITER (it is expected
that EURATOM will pay for much of this).
Second staff to ITER teams during
both construction and operation periods (it is expected that EURATOM
will pay for this).
B. Increasingly shift the emphasis of research
from the plasma science of fusion systems, to the technology and
materials required to use this science in a fusion power station,
maximising the involvement of UK universities and industry.
C. Seek European operation of JET beyond
2005 as long as this is a cost-effective way of contributing to
the "fast track" development of fusion.
It is possible that this would require
increased UK resources given the concentration of EURATOM funding
on ITER construction.
Culham should seek opportunities
for the JET programme to focus more on technology and on materials
issues (specifically plasma-materials interactions)
When operations do end, the contributions
JET decommissioning makes to fusion development (especially in
waste treatment) should be maximised.
D. Consider options for a major facility
of strategic value to the "fast track" when JET operations
Ideally, this would have an emphasis
on both materials/technology and fusion plasma science, and might
be based on results from the MAST spherical tokamak.
JET infrastructure should be used
where possible (this will require EURATOM permission), though
options may be limited while the present machine is being decommissioned.
Such a facility is likely to require
substantial funding from the UK and if possible Europe and a decision-point
is some years away.
E. In the meantime, get the most out of
MAST, and consider upgrading it to longer pulses and higher plasma
currents (and therefore better performance) Tasks are:
To provide as much information as
possible for ITER.
To maintain the UK's lead in the
spherical tokamak concept.
To determine whether the spherical
tokamak has any specific major technical difficulties which might
prevent a sustained burning plasma for either component testing
or electricity generation.
F. Take advantage of fusion's new home in
OST and EPSRC to integrate Culham more fully into the UK science
and technology base, with a main objective being to involve industry
and universities in all aspects of fusion development.
G. Take opportunities to apply Culham's
skills and facilities to other areas of plasma science and to
This can only work if key stakeholdersparticularly
appropriate universitiesare cultivated and synergies with
fusion are maximised. This will now be easier from within the
Research Council system.
It is very important that no changes are made
or initiatives started that threaten an international fast track
strategy in which the major fusion programmes would have complementary,
rather than competing, facilities. For the moment, Culham has
to keep its options open as it is not clear which types of facility
Europe will host nor the research areas it will lead. This will
depend on where ITER is sited.
21 NB The views expressed are solely those of UKAEA. Back
This and other terms are defined in a brief glossary at the end
of this paper. Back