Discussing the European fusion strategy

(L-R) Marc Lachaise (F4E), Jan Panek (DG Energy), Gianfranco Federici (ITER Organization), Ana Bélen Del Cerro (ILOs Network), Milena Roveda (Gauss Fusion), Peter Roos, (Novatron Fusion) and Michala Hergetová (moderator) during the panel discussion.

As the ITER project advances, and R&D breakthroughs unlock the potential of fusion, the EU is considering its strategy towards this new technology that can generate abundant, clean power supply and make Europe more self-sufficient. To make this prospect a reality, those who have a stake would need to think of the transition from research to commercial fusion. This topic was at the centre of the discussions at the EU Blueprint for Fusion Energy conference, organised by the European Commission. The event, held in Strasbourg on 23 April, invited European public bodies, industry representatives, start-ups and policy-makers in the field of fusion.  

The question on the table was a pivotal one: with fusion industry gaining momentum, what is the path to accelerate fusion in the EU? During the day, several panels tackled this theme from different angles in terms of policy, regulation, funding or skills. In her opening speech, Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, encouraged participants to think long-term: “The time is right to discuss what a possible EU fusion strategy could look like… We need to do much more than just complete ITER”, she added.  

One of the sessions focused on how to build the fusion industrial ecosystem. Some of the ideas discussed pointed towards mobilising more private investment, seeking new forms of public-private cooperation or streamlining the knowledge flow.  

In this regard, the Director of Fusion for Energy (F4E), Marc Lachaise, presented F4E as a well-placed actor to reinforce EU industry’s capabilities and its ties to projects like ITER. “Since 2008, we have invested nearly 7 billion EUR in contracts, creating jobs and nurturing innovation”, he stressed. Besides the contractual relations, F4E is also in direct contact with companies through its network of Industrial Liaison Officers and has a Technology Transfer programme, with a dedicated Marketplace.  “We strive to create the conditions for a strong European supply chain. Ultimately, what we need is a renewed and comprehensive EU strategy for fusion, tackling not only the scientific challenges, but also all needs at the level of skills, industry or regulation”, concluded the Director of F4E.

F4E director Marc Lachaise
F4E director Marc Lachaise was a speaker in the panel dedicated to the industrial ecosystem

The Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, closed the conference with encouraging remarks: “Fusion energy could be a real global gamechanger, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and securing affordable, sustainable energy. For that we need a commercial fusion industry able to scale at the necessary pace to have a meaningful impact on the green transition.”