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There are no quick fixes to long-term energy challenges. To find solutions, governments and industry benefit from sharing resources and accelerating results. For this reason the IEA enables independent groups of experts - the Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs1.

Environment, Safety, Economy of Fusion Power

A sample query from the failure rate database.

Tracking component tests

Policy context
Fusion energy has the potential to be a safe, environmentally attractive and inexhaustible source of power. A significant amount of research must still be accomplished. While the understanding of fusion science advances, developing and demonstrating the safety and economic viability of fusion is equally important. The knowledge gained must be made available to both the regulator and the public in order to fully appreciate the potentials and challenges of fusion power. Further governmental support for this work is needed.

The aims of the ETI focusing on socio-economic aspects of fusion (ESEFP) are to conduct research and to perform physical tests to determine the nature of materials and to benchmark the analytical tools that are necessary to demonstrate the safety and economy of fusion. This includes development, validation, and establishment of data requirements of environmental and safety analysis models and computer codes and supporting research; development of safety methodologies for use by designers of fusion facilities; and system studies of future fusion facilities to determine their environmental, safety and economic characteristics. There are seven Contracting Parties, including Russia and China.

Failure rates of fusion device components are used to predict maintenance schedules, and are key elements in any safety analysis for fusion reactors. Therefore an important ongoing activity of ESEFP involves developing and maintaining a failure rate database that covers tritium facilities and tokamak experiments worldwide. 

This information is important to demonstrate the safety and reliability of fusion power. These data also support the industries’ design components for fusion devices. These fusion-specific data are valuable to ascertain the reliability, availability, maintainability and inspectability (RAMI), the operations support, and quantification of the probabilistic safety assessment (PSA). Regulatory agencies rely on this information to license fusion power plants. Where possible, database entries have been validated against independent data and double-checked for accuracy. This includes data from nuclear fission reactors, but also the chemical industry, aerospace industry, particle accelerator datasets, military datasets, the offshore oil industry, and other industries with data applicable to fusion research.

The database now contains over 830 failure rate values of mechanical, electrical and electronic components such as compressors, condensors, circuit breakers, conductors, fans, heaters, magnets (both cryogenic and superconducting) piping (both cryogenic and superconducting), pressurisers, pumps, vacuum pumps and valves. An additional 460 values are in the process of validation.

Given the significance of this database in support of safety and reliability, at the end of 2012 the database (residing at the Italian National agency for new technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) was made available to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project.


Current projects

  • Activation products source terms
  • Failure-rate database
  • In-vessel tritium source term
  • Magnet safety
  • Power plant studies
  • Radioactive waste studies

For more information: The ESEFP IA website is under development.  


1.Information or material of the IEA Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.