Review of Fusion for energy Research

An important review and consultation has just been announced in the United Kingdom - The Review of Fusion for Energy Research. Your views are sought by the closing date of Friday 18th September at 17:00 (BST).

This is a broadly based review aimed at establishing a 20 year vision and associated strategy for fusion research in the UK that will cover both the magnetic and inertial (laser) fusion solutions (known as MFE and IFE). As such, the review will cover future UK options for MAST, JET and ITER (for MFE) and HiPER (for IFE).

The Review will assess the potential impact of fusion on a future low-Carbon energy economy. It is not directly concerned with the scientific impact of fusion research. The review will assess whether fusion should be funded as part of the Research Councils' energy research portfolio, and (if so) will provide advice on the most appropriate next steps for both IFE and MFE. The potential impact of this review is thus very substantial.

Laser fusion (IFE): HiPER

The UK coordinates the HiPER project – a consortium of 26 institutions across 10 European countries. The project has established a risk-balanced, timely and coordinated programme for Inertial Fusion Energy research within Europe that seeks to maximize the benefit from current and future investments worldwide. The project covers both science and technology and is currently midway through its Preparatory Phase.

We eagerly await the 'proof of principle' demonstration of energy gain from controlled laboratory fusion (on the US National Ignition Facility) in the next 1 to 3 years – an achievement that will represent the culmination of over 50 years effort. This will provide the evidence to support the next phase of the HiPER project – the integration of scientific proof with the technology required to deliver fusion power output.  

These developments of laser fusion technology and reactor design need to progress hand-in-hand with investment in the academic and industrial community – to exploit existing and emerging facilities, and to capitalize on the major opportunities ahead.  We note the important and leading role the UK community has played in high intensity laser plasma science over the last two decades – providing a robust platform for future growth.

Planned UK investment in projects such as the Vulcan 10 PW upgrade, the next generation of diode pumped laser technology (DIPOLE) and high performance computing are natural next steps in the strategic development of HiPER laser fusion. Coupled to this, an investment in enhanced training in fusion science and technology is needed to ensure that we have the scientists and engineers to fully exploit IFE. These developments are essential if the UK is to maintain a leadership position in this field and ensure industry is well placed to reap the substantial benefits of fusion delivery.

Action Required

It is important that the views of the whole community are presented to this Review, to help ensure the most appropriate future direction is chosen for UK fusion research. Please respond to the online questionnaire.

A Word file with the list of questions is attached here to facilitate thought and discussion. Please note that the Review will only accept on line submissions through the online portal by 17:00 BST Friday 18th September.