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Energy RTD under the Fourth Framework Programme

On 10 March 1994, the Commission released short descriptions outlining each of the specific programmes within the Fourth Framework Programme. These include an overview of the aims and objectives of RTD in the field of energy to be undertaken during 1994-1998:

RTD actions in t...
On 10 March 1994, the Commission released short descriptions outlining each of the specific programmes within the Fourth Framework Programme. These include an overview of the aims and objectives of RTD in the field of energy to be undertaken during 1994-1998:

RTD actions in this area will aid the European Union to deal with the energy problem in order to stimulate economic growth and the protection of the environment. The proposed RTD programmes will also cover all related areas, from the improvement of technologies and research on future energy sources to socio-economic aspects and demonstration activities. This research will be undertaken in the context of the various policies of the EU on transport, environment etc. The specific programmes in this area comprise:

1) Clean and Efficient Energy Technologies: This programme will aim to reduce the impact of energy use on the environment and to encourage research into renewable energy sources. It includes both research and demonstration activities in two priority areas:

- "Improvement of energy conversion and use", seeking to reduce polluting emissions and improve fossil-fuel energy conversion efficiency;

- "Renewable energy research", where a concentrated effort is required to bring this field to the maturity necessary to fulfil its substantial potential (biomass conversion, photovoltaic electricity, integration of active and passive solar energy systems in buildings, geothermal energy, wind power, etc.);

Demonstration activities, focused closer to the market, will be grouped around: Rational energy use; renewable energies; fossil combustibles. If it is considered to be in the interests of the parties involved, cooperation may also be undertaken at regional, national or international levels, particularly in the promotion of energy technologies.

2) Nuclear Fission Safety: The objective of activities in this field will be to bring together RTD efforts in order to formulate a global approach to nuclear safety, integrating the different aspects ranging from the exploitation of nuclear energy to its medical applications. Six themes are planned:

- "Exploitation of new concepts", comprising reactor safety, management and storage of long-lifetime radioactives, and the risks of misuse of fission materials;

- "Reactor safety" which aims to advance the understanding of nuclear accidents in order to improve safety and preventive measures;

- "The nuclear fuel cycle", for a joint approach to the problems of radioactive waste (geological storage, recovery of stored material, safety of combustibles, etc.);

- "The effects of radiation on man and the environment", to increase understanding of ionizing radiation (in-utero effects, impact on DNA, etc.) in order to reduce or eliminate the detrimental effects on human health and also to establish standards for the protection of individuals, particularly in industry, medicine and energy production;

- "Historical obligations", related to the nuclear safety situation in Central and Eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union. Taking into account the historical situation and the proximity of these areas, the EU will implement collaborative projects in the fields of radiation protection, waste management and the restoration of environmentally compromised sites.

3) Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion: The programme will integrate all the activities of the Member States (plus Sweden and Switzerland) in the field of thermonuclear fusion by magnetic confinement, with the long-term objective of jointly implementing prototype reactors which are safe and environmentally non-detrimental. Cooperative work between European laboratories has resulted in the construction of the world's largest fusion installation, the Joint European Torus (JET), which permits Europe to play a major role in fusion development at a world level, and hence to make an important contribution to the development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). This international cooperative effort corresponds to Europe's "Next Step" project, which aims to establish the feasibility of thermonuclear fusion for peaceful uses. A further stage will be the development of a demonstration reactor (DEMO) capable of producing significant quantities of electricity. Activities during 1994-1998 focus on three themes:

- "Next Step", to bring to completion the project relating to the construction and commissioning of the "Next Step" reactor, the results of which will contribute to ITER;

- "Conceptual development", supporting Next Step and DEMO by research in physics and plasma engineering (plasma/container interaction, heating and flow);

- "Long-term technologies", to bring together research aimed at the development of future reactors, including research into safety, environmental aspects, and the social acceptance of fusion power.

Industrial participation in these programmes will be strongly encouraged. At the same time, the possibility of extending international cooperation beyond ITER will be studied.

Source: Commission, Service du Porte-Parole

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