MEPs agree to fund ‘chimera’ nuclear fusion project

(EurActiv, 16 Jan 2019) The European Parliament voted on Tuesday (15 January) to extend the funding of an experimental fusion power reactor through to 2027, although some MEPs are still concerned about the multi-billion euro moon-shot that could revolutionise the way power is generated.

Work in still ongoing in the south of France to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) reactor, which is meant to demonstrate that fusion technology can produce more energy than is needed to fuel it.

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg agreed to sign off on the €6 billion proposed budget for the  2021-2027 period but also pointed out that construction was meant to be completed by 2020.

In 2016, the council that governs the project approved a new timetable, under which the initial stage would only be reached by the end of 2025 at the earliest. Net-power gain is earmarked for 2035.

It is a slow process and a full fusion reactor, which could generate ten times more power than is needed to run it, might only be ready to come online in 2055.

The green light from the Parliament means that ITER can now be added to the EU’s upcoming wrangling over its next overall long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

As host of the international experiment, the EU foots the largest part of the bill, although the US, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and India are also partners and pay their way.

But Greens MEP Michèle Rivasi criticised the EU assembly’s decision to award the €6 billion to a project she has denounced as a “financial chasm” and a “scientific chimera”.

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EurActiv, 16 Jan 2019: MEPs agree to fund ‘chimera’ nuclear fusion project