Broader Approach

On Monday 5 February in Tokyo, the Euratom and the Japanese government signed the “Broader Approach” agreement that was initialled on 22 November 2006, the day after the signing of the ITER agreement in Paris. This agreement is part of the deal hammered out during the site decision process, defining a “previlidged partnership” for Japan and setting out the work to be carried out jointly by the EU and Japan in support of ITER. The EU/Japan agreement lasts 10 years and represents some 340 million Euro of European investment. The cooperation aims to complement the ITER Project and to accelarate the realisation of fusion energy as a clean and sustainable energy source, by carrying out R&D and developing some advanced technologies for a future demonstration fusion power reactor (DEMO).

The Broader Approach is a concept that was originally invented as a means of resolving the deadlock in the decision process of the ITER site. It has since grown into the development of a broader approach to fusion development, being recognised that the necessary information needed for the construction of a power reactor will not be provided by ITER alone. Therefore complementary facilities and activities will be needed in order to accelerate the development of magnetic fusion. These include:

  • a remote experimental control centre as an alternate focus for interaction with ITER;
  • a virtual plasma modelling laboratory, to bring together models for plasma behaviour on ITER and to make predictions, feeding back information subsequently from ITER operation;
  • a “satellite” tokamak providing support (and the ability to rapidly evaluate new ideas) during ITER construction and operation;
  • the DEMO design team;
  • a DEMO materials test/qualification facility (IFMIF).

The most important element in the above list is the materials test facility, without which it will be difficult to qualify the structural materials needed to license DEMO. A change in these materials is necessary for the higher neutron fluences to be experienced in the devices following ITER. Although the materials will be tested in ITER operation in the test blanket modules, little information on their endurance will be available from ITER, due to its low accumulation rate for neutron damage.

The other facilities will allow ITER to do more, sooner, by providing the ability to conduct experiments for longer periods per day, and by increasing the speed of understanding and exploiting any new phenomena ITER reveals.

As a result of the agreement on the construction site for ITER, Japan and Europe have both agreed to make contributions of 49 B¥/339 M€ (May 2005 values) to projects from the above list (or other suitable projects) to be sited in Japan. These will be open also to the other future ITER Parties to co-fund and join in participation.

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