asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he will outline the Government's attitude to the proposal for major research by the EEC Commission into nuclear fusion as a possible new energy source and if this proposal has the Government's support.
Written Answers. - Nuclear Fusion Research.
With a view to investigating the possibility of establishing a new economic source of energy a five-year programme for fusion research formed part of the initial programme of the European Atomic Energy Council (EURATOM) on its establishment in 1958. This has since been followed up by a number of pluriannual programmes adopted by the EEC Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Commission.
Ireland supported the programme adopted by the Council of Ministers in March 1976 subsequently varied to include the construction and initial operation of the Joint European Torus (JET), a large experimental nuclear project which will enable fusion research work to be extended up to conditions close to those in which a commercial reactor would operate. In May 1976 the Government formally authorised signature of an agreement whereby Ireland became a member of the joint undertaking to implement the JET Project.
A new five-year (1979-1983) Research Programme in the field of controlled nuclear fusion intended to take over from the earlier programme has been presented by the European Commission for decision by the Council of Ministers. This programme which is still under consideration comprises the construction and assembly of JET and a complementing general fusion research programme. In line with the Government's policy on fusion research Ireland has so far supported adoption of the programme.