Europe and USA sign energy research agreement

The US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and European Union Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin have signed agreements to conduct joint research in the areas of fusion energy and non-nuclear energy.

‘As our agencies begin this co-operation in non-nuclear science and technology under the 1997 Science & Technology Agreement, we embark on a whole new era of collaboration,’ Secretary Abraham said at a signing ceremony in Brussels. ‘This arrangement provides us with an opportunity to pursue alternatives to our mounting energy demands and help secure our needs for the future.’

The US Department of Energy/European Union Implementing Arrangement in Non-Nuclear Science & Technology Agreement is the first major legally binding agency-to-agency agreement signed under the 1997 US/EU Government-to-Government Science & Technology Agreement.

The agreement is said to cover a wide range of potential co-operation in fossil energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency with an immediate focus on fuel cell technology and carbon sequestration.

‘With the signing of the new umbrella fusion agreement, we look forward to continuing our many years of successful collaboration in the field of fusion research,’ Secretary Abraham added. ‘This agreement also provides the opportunity to pursue new initiatives.’

Areas of co-operation under the agreement include tokamaks (a doughnut-shaped magnetic confinement design), alternatives to tokamaks, magnetic fusion energy technology, plasma theory and applied plasma physics.

Under the agreement, the US Department of Energy plans to contribute $1.3 million over two years to develop hardware for use at the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion device in the United Kingdom.

The hardware will enable JET to enhance its performance and explore new areas of fusion science. Ongoing collaborations include research to improve understanding of the physics of newer, innovative approaches to fusion.

The original umbrella fusion agreement was signed in 1986. The agreement provides for co-operation between the European Atomic Energy Community represented by the Commission of the European Communities and the US Department of Energy.