The EUROfusion Roadmap for fusion research was recently updated and describes a clear set of missions and associated goals on the route to commercial fusion electricity. Beyond ITER, the main target of the programme is the development of DEMO, a fusion technology demonstrator which will produce substantial net electrical output, breed its own fuel, and demonstrate supporting technologies such as automated remote handling systems aimed at high availability. Work on DEMO has already proven extremely valuable in identifying the substantial design integration issues and system interdependencies which uniquely complicate fusion power plant design. However, the uncertainties which arise from the low Technology Readiness Levels of fusion systems mean that DEMO must be robustly designed with substantial margins in performance, and while it will demonstrate the technological feasibility of an integrated fusion power plant, further work will be required to refine the concept towards attractive commercialisation.
Under EUROfusion Mission 7, work is turning to the wider problems of how fusion-produced energy can be turned into economically-viable electrical energy. A fusion power plant is a uniquely-challenging environment and requires specialised technologies: unless the materials and technology can either find crossover applications outside fusion or ways to dramatically reduce costs as they are scaled to full commercial roll-out, fusion will always be dauntingly expensive.
This talk outlines the EUROfusion approach to solving these problems. It describes the problems faced in engineering a fusion power plant; supply chain and procurement issues to be solved; and suggests ways in which fusion power might be made cheaper.