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Research and innovation
News article13 January 2021Directorate-General for Research and Innovation2 min read

Expert panel approves the next DEMO design phase

EUROfusion is responsible for the development of the technical basis for the design of DEMO, ITER’s successor. With the transition from ITER to DEMOnstration power plant, fusion will go from a science-driven, lab-based exercise to an industry-driven and technology-driven programme. The key criterion for DEMO is the demonstration of technological and economic viability of fusion power operating with a closed tritium fuel cycle through the production of a few hundred MWs of net electricity to the grid. These are the key objectives of the EU Fusion Roadmap.

On 25th November 2020, the first project-wide gate review of the DEMO project was completed by an independent expert review panel. This gate is significant, not only as it marks the transition between the Pre-Conceptual Design Phase (2014 – 2020) and the Conceptual Design Phase (2021 – 2027), but also as it is the first time that a competent and experienced independent panel provides critical feedback to the DEMO stakeholders.

This gate review process, which has been implemented in the project over the past two years, is part of a progressive development towards a staged-design approach to designing DEMO, and a key step towards aligning the project with industry standardised practices. At this G1 gate, the panel reviewed the R&D and design activities executed during the Pre-Conceptual Design Phase together with the plan forward and associated risks for the upcoming Conceptual Design Phase.

Gate reviews, which are not yet commonplace in the Fusion community, provide an indispensable tool to measure progress from an external perspective. Not only does it help the project to ensure it is aligned with its objectives, review progress and resources, but it also provides the stakeholders with recommendations on the continuation of the project together with its risks.

The gate panel comprised prof. Rolf-Dieter Heuer (former Director-General of CERN and President of the SESAME Council), prof. Attila Aszodi (professor of nuclear energy and safety, Budapest University of Technology and Economics), Maria Teresa Dominguez Bautista (Director of the Advanced Projects Division, Empresarios Agrupados), Dr. Richard Hawryluk (Associate Director for Fusion, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory) and Julien Vieuble (Inspector at the French nuclear security authority ASN). The panel provided its findings to all participants, to the DEMO Programme Steering Board and the European Commission. The panel demonstrated its experience and knowledge by steering the gate discussions to ensure they gained full understanding of the critical technical and organisation aspects of the project to facilitate their evaluation. This report will be an essential element for facilitating the transition to the next phase and validates the basis from which conceptual design activities will be formed.

Dr. Gianfranco Federici, Head of the EUROfusion Fusion Technology Department commented: “I am encouraged by the panel’s preliminary findings and look forward to proceeding into the next phase with the constructive recommendations and continued momentum in the project. In my view this has proved to be invaluable process for both the project and our stakeholders.”

Dr. Elena Righi-Steele, head of EURATOM Research at the European Commission is a strong proponent of assessing DEMO activities through a stage-gate review system. "In addition to providing important feedback, this process will steer their long term development into a project that can deliver a viable DEMO design. This Gate Review has been the first important milestone in this direction and I am certain the report and recommendations will help further develop DEMO's project-oriented approach."

More information

Full story on EUROfusion


Publication date
13 January 2021
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation