A €283 million contract signed with the European Commission will enable the UK’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy to continue operation of the Joint European Torus until the end of 2018.

JET is currently the world’s largest tokamak. It is operated as a common tool for researchers across Europe, conducting much of the key work to assist the design and construction of the international ITER fusion project.

CCFE said that the new five-year operating agreement represents the largest ever single contract to be awarded to CCFE and gives Culham and the European fusion programme "unprecedented security of funding."

It will enable future experimental programmes and further upgrades to JET to be planned "with confidence" and secures JET’s position as a science and engineering test bed for its international successor ITER, it said.

The contract, which took months to prepare at the end of 2013 and in early 2014, has now been signed and CCFE has received the first payments.

JET operation is being provided as an in-kind contribution to the EUROfusion Consortium, which is responsible for implementing the coordinated fusion research programme under a separate grant agreement with the Commission.

In 2014, the EUROfusion Consortium – a consortium of European fusion labatories – became the sucessor to the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). In June, Tony Donné, head of the Fusion Programme at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, DIFFER, and professor for Diagnostics of Fusion Plasmas at the Eindhoven University of Technology took over as programme manager for EUROfusion.

Photo: Cut-away model of the Joint European Torus