A European collaboration of leading physicists and government officials representing 10 countries, and supported by science partners from fusion research establishments worldwide, formally signed an agreement on 6 October to coordinate a three-year preparatory phase to establish the planning and design for the full HiPER facility.
HiPER is a proposed European High Power laser Energy Research facility dedicated to demonstrating the feasibility of laser-driven fusion as a future energy source. Designed to enable a broad array of new science including extreme material studies, astrophysics in the laboratory, miniaturized particle accelerators and a wide range of fundamental physics research, HiPER aims to provide the critical next step in moving from scientific proof of principle stage to a commercial reactor after the "proof of principle" of laser fusion is established in the next few years based on two very large scale lasers currently nearing completion in California (NIF) and Bordeaux (Laser Megajoule). Steve Cowley, Director of the UK's national magnetic confinement fusion program, gave a presentation at the inauguration entitled "Fusion—the bigger picture." "Fusion," he said, "is so vital we need to try every way of achieving it. Climate change and security of energy supply are too important to leave any stone unturned. HiPER is not a successor to conventional magnetic fusion but a parallel development."