US and Europe agree to collaborate on fusion and non-nuclear energy research

The United States Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and the European Union Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin have signed two agreements to collaborate on research into fusion and non-nuclear energy.

It is envisaged that the main fields of collaboration will be fossil energies and coping with climate change, new energy sources such as hydrogen and solar energy, and energy efficiency. Collaboration is thought to be likely to involve developing joint standards, sharing unique research and development facilities, exchanging and networking experts, conducting joint technology foresight studies, and co-ordinating research projects.

According to the Commission, Europe’s strengths in energy research lie in the areas of thermonuclear fusion and energy efficiency, and the US is advanced in the areas of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emission research. The main fields of interest for the Commission are fuel cell technology, hydrogen production technologies, solar energy and biomass.

“The signing of these agreements gives the right political signal and underlines the importance the European Union attaches to securing safe and clean energy supplies for future generations,” said Busquin at the signing in Brussels. “The global challenges in the field of energy are such that a more systematic collaboration as well as learning from each other is becoming highly desirable, if not indispensable, for the sustainable development of our economies.”

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

As part of the agreement, the US Department of Energy says that it plans to contribute $1.3 million over two years in order to help develop hardware for use at the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion device in the UK, to enhance performance and explore new areas of fusion science.

“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,” Abraham added. “This agreement also provides the opportunity to pursue new initiatives.”

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