Good discussion about fusion energy with the Prince of Wales at JET

I had the pleasure to represent the EUROfusion consortium when His Royal Highness (HRH), the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, visited JET this Monday.

Shaking hands with the Prince. Screen capture from the The Royal Family Channel video at . Link to the video at the end of this blog.

Joint European Torus (JET), the largest and most powerful operating tokamak machine in the world, is currently the only tokamak – a machine which confines a plasma using magnetic fields – in the world running experiments using deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen. It has been key to the development of its successor ITER, the larger and more advanced version of JET and based in France, and one of the biggest collaborative science projects in history, involving 35 nations. The short history of JET can be found at the end of this blog.

JET’s experiments are run by researchers from the EUROfusion consortium – 4,800 experts, students and staff from across Europe, co-funded by the European Commission. I have spent myself more than 10 years of my fusion researcher career in JET and consequently in this occasion, I represented a JET scientist with the European background.

HRH The Prince of Wales today saw first-hand how fusion energy could play a key role in addressing climate change through a safe, sustainable and low-carbon future energy supply.

Her Majesty The Queen officially opened JET in 1984. Almost 40 years later, experts based at UKAEA’s Culham Science Centre, Oxford, discussed with The Prince of Wales how fusion promises to be an important part of the low-carbon energy mix in the second half of this century.

Professor Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA, said: “It was an honour to welcome His Royal Highness to our world-leading fusion energy research and development facility and showcase the ground-breaking JET machine.

“We agreed significant changes are needed to decarbonise the energy supply, and how fusion energy has huge potential to address that challenge. The Prince of Wales was very keen to understand more about how fusion can be a critical piece of the future global energy.”

I had the pleasure to explain to The Prince of Wales that JET has played and is still playing a very important role for smaller European countries, which do not have their fusion device of their own. JET has genuinely been a tokamak where real European-wide collaboration takes place at its best and most inspiring way. I also described him that while the co-ordination of all FinnFusion activities is my main duty, I am still actively leading JET experiments, the next experiment taking place as soon as this Friday in 100% Tritium plasma.

The visit of HRH The Prince of Wales included discussions with UKAEA CEO Prof. Ian Chapman, The Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Marjorie Glasgow, EUROfusion Director Professor Tony Donne, EUROfusion JET Senior Manager Dr Fernanda Rimini, Ambassador of the European Union to the United Kingdom, Mr João Vale de Almeida, Permanent Secretary for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Ms Sarah Munby, Chief Scientist, ITER Organization, Dr Tim Luce, Chair, General Fusion (UK) Ltd, Mr Norman Harrison CBE.

There is a major media event taking place in Culham on Wednesday, 9th of February targeted to all Europeans with the scope to report on the recent JET Deuterium-Tritium experiment. This will be widely distributed also in Finland.

Now I will continue the final preparation for my next JET experiment that is taking place on 4th of February.

Tuomas Tala

The history of JET

1975 Proposals for the JET machine were completed

1977 Culham in Oxfordshire was chosen as the host site for JET

1983 JET was turned on and achieved its first plasma before official opening by Her Majesty The Queen

1991 Performed the world’s first deuterium-tritium experiment – the fuel mix that will be used in the first commercial fusion power plants

1997 A world record 22.5 megajoules of fusion energy and 16 megawatts of fusion power achieved in the first dedicated deuterium-tritium run of experiments, proving large amounts of power can be produced from fusion

2021 Completes a second full-power run of experiments using deuterium and tritium