The European Investment Bank (EIB) confirmed it would lend €250m ($273.8m) of funding for research into fusion energy in Italy.
The project is guaranteed by the Investment Plan for Europe and is being co-financed by EUROfusion, the EU programme to produce safe, clean nuclear fusion energy by 2050.
The funding will be provided under the Commission’s Juncker Plan supporting the implementation of the new scientific and technological hub of ENEA (Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) and its Divertor Tokamak Test (DTT) facility which will be built in Frascati near Rome. The DTT facility has been created to respond to some of the key scientific and technological issues surrounding nuclear fusion.
This funding forms part of a total investment of €500m for the facility. In addition to the €250m allocated by the EIB and backed by the guarantee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (the pillar of the Juncker Plan), EUROfusion will contribute €60m in Horizon 2020 funding, Italy’s Ministry of Education, University and Research will provide €40m, the Ministry for Economic Development €40m, and the Lazio Region €25m.
Some 1500 scientists and technicians will be involved in the project (500 directly) and the impact on Italy’s GDP will be around €2bn. Furthermore, collaboration with Italian and European universities and research centres will produce new generations of scientists and researchers, EIB said.
“ENEA's project has two aspects that are fundamental for Europe: innovation and combating climate change," said EIB vice-president Dario Scannapieco. "We must do more in both fields if we wish to look towards our planet’s future with hope and a sense of optimism, focusing responsibly on the long term without fear of the immediate short term which too often influences choices in terms of allocation of financial resources,”
European Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, responsible for Climate Action and Energy, said: “To achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, we need to keep investing in new technological solutions. Fusion is a potential source of safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy. If we succeed in making a breakthrough in this technology, it could significantly contribute to our efforts to make Europe the first climate-neutral major economy.”