The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 39 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.


Environment, Safety and Economic Aspects of Fusion Power (ESEFP TCP)

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Calculating the safety and economics of fusion power

The ESEFP TCP conducts research, tests materials and develops analytical tools to advance the safety and cost-effectiveness of fusion. A revised socio-economic model for fusion power enables a valuable range of analyses such as comparing electricity extracted from fusion to wind, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fission. 

Systems analysis modelling provides important information for socio-economic analysis of fusion power.*

Fusion energy has the potential to be a safe, environmentally attractive and inexhaustible source of power. Fusion could play a key role in meeting the growing global electricity demand in the future as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet a significant amount of research must still be performed to demonstrate the safety and economic viability of fusion power.

For these reasons, an important activity of the ESEFP TCP is to develop reliable research methodologies that characterise the safety and viability of fusion reactors. Recently, this activity has focused on analytical tools to gain understanding of the expected costs and social acceptance of generating electricity from fusion power. In 2013, the seven countries participating in this activity sought to modernise the System Analysis Programme for Parameter Optimisation and Economic Assessment of Fusion Reactors (SYSCODE). The main functions of SYSCODE consist of systems design and design optimisation, cost assessments and engineering analysis.

To date, SYSCODE has been applied to a wide range of fusion power plant systems. For the FDS-I device (a fusion-drive subcritical system), SYSCODE enabled cost analysis of the electricity extracted showed that while fusion would be more expensive than wind energy the costs would be lower than costs of producing electricity from other sources (coal, natural gas, and nuclear fission).

For FDS-MFX (Multi-Functional eXperimental Reactor), SYSCODE was used to detail the costs depending on the phase of operations. Lastly, SYSCODE was applied to the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR) which resulted in two economic options for capital construction cost and electricity consumption costs.

Participants in the study validated SYSCODE parameters by comparing them with the international system codes benchmark for demonstration power plant design (DEMO)** reported in the 2nd International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) DEMO workshop.

The next phase of activity will focus on the comparison of cost assessment between SYSCODE and PROCESS, which assesses the engineering and economic viability of future fusion power plant by using simple models of all components of a reactor system.

To further understand safety issues and public attitudes towards fusion energy, participants in the ESEFP TCP are also examining stakeholder engagement, public opinion, and media framing of dedicated fusion devices, hybrid devices, and specific aspects of the fusion process such as tritiated water (including tritium),*** a fusion by product.

* Graphic adapted from information provided by the ESEFP TCP
 
** The demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO) is the next experimental device to follow ITER, and predecessor to a commercial‑sized fusion reactor. DEMO would generate electricity at the level of a few hundred MW and utilise all technologies required for commercial deployment
 
*** Tritiated water, a radioactive form of water, contains the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium. With a half‑life of about 12 years it is not dangerous externally, but could be a hazard when inhaled, ingested via food or water, or absorbed through the skin

Activities

  • Activation product source terms
  • Failure rate database
  • Fusion power plant studies
  • In-vessel tritium source terms
  • Magnet safety
  • Radioactive waste study
  • Socio-economic aspects of fusion power
  • Transient thermo-fluid modelling and validation tests

Participants

  IEA member 
countries
 Partner 
 countries 
Reg./Int. 
orgs.
Contracting Parties   4  2  1
Sponsors - -  -

For more information: www.iea-esefp.net

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