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New IAEA Initiative to Enhance Fusion Energy Collaboration


The IAEA fosters the exchange of scientific and technical results in fusion energy research and development through its series of Fusion Energy Conferences. 

The IAEA’s Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi opened the IAEA’s 29th International Fusion Energy Conference (FEC) in London on Monday, with the announcement an inaugural meeting of the World Fusion Energy Group will be convened next year. This group aims to bring together not just scientists and engineers from laboratories and experimental centres, but also policy makers, financiers, regulators and private companies.

In response to the evolving fusion landscape and with the aim to establish a coherent global fusion community, working in unison to accelerate research, development, demonstration and deployment of safe and sustainable fusion energy to market, the World Fusion Energy Group will focus on:

  • Increasing global cooperation, particularly through coordinating and providing space and recurring opportunity for interactive dialogue, exchange, planning and partnerships between stakeholders from industry, governments, academia, regulators and public,
  • Helping ensure efficacy of fusion energy R&D programs such as in the use of existing facilities and planning for new facilities,
  • Communally identifying existing technology and engineering gaps and developing strategies for establishing solutions at international level,
  • Fostering discussion on establishing effective fusion regulation,
  • Increasing public consciousness about fusion energy,
  • Promoting integration of fusion into the energy market, and
  • Facilitating the integration of fusion into the existing energy systems, including the support infrastructure.

The announcement comes as interest in fusion energy research gains momentum around the world. Fusion has the potential to provide a source of limitless, inherently safe, clean and affordable energy.   

“Big science needs collaboration, and it doesn’t get much bigger than fusion energy,” Director General Grossi said in his opening statement on 16 October.   

“I will shortly invite fusion experts to work with the IAEA to outline Fusion Key Elements such as fusion-related definitions, characteristics and criteria for fusion energy to help develop common understanding among stakeholders essential for global deployment,” he added.  

The Fusion Key Elements are expected to be identified in time for the inaugural gathering of the World Fusion Energy Group next year.   

The IAEA also launched a new publication at the opening of the conference, the IAEA World Fusion Outlook, a comprehensive guide on fusion’s journey from vision to reality. The publication aims to become a global reference for authoritative information regarding the latest developments in fusion energy.  

The IAEA supports fusion research by providing atomic and physics data through seven fusion databases, as well as other opportunities for scientific collaboration through its Fusion Portal and Fusional Device Information System.   

In the past weeks, the IAEA signed a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to set up the first Collaborating Centre focussed on fusion. The IAEA is also collaborating with companies such as Eni, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, General Atomics, Tokamak Energy and First Light Fusion who are at the forefront of fusion research and development.  

Around 2000 people will gather at this year’s FEC to discuss the achievements made over the past two years since the previous conference. These include the Joint European Torus (JET)’s world energy record; the National Ignition Facility (NIF)'s scientific energy gain; MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ high-temperature superconducting magnet and the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)'s long-pulse operation. In addition, billions of dollars have been invested into private sector fusion research, reflected in the FEC session, Pathways to Fusion, bringing together public and private sector developments.  

A Women in Fusion side event will be held as part of the FEC conference on Tuesday. The event promotes greater gender equality and diversity in the fusion energy workforce, which currently stands at 20 per cent women. In March, the Women in Fusion launched a mentoring programme to support the professional development of women working in all aspects of the fusion sector – from research to engineering to communications.  

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