picture of Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony at JET

History & Anniversaries


Beginning of design work

Culham site is chosen and the construction work begins

25th June 1983
Very first plasma achieved at JET

9th April 1984
JET officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

9th November 1991
The world’s first controlled release of fusion energy

JET converted to Divertor configuration

World record! JET produces 16 megawatts of fusion power

Remote Handling first used for in-vessel work

The collective use of JET and its scientific programme becomes managed through the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA)

JET starts operation with ITER-like magnetic configurations

Installation of the ITER-Like Wall

2011 onwards
Experimenting with the all-metall wall

In 1970 the Council of the European Community decided in favour of a robust fusion programme and provided the necessary legal framework for a European fusion device to be developed. Three years later, the design work began for the JET machine. In 1977 the construction work began and at the end of the same year a former Fleet Air Arm airfield at Culham in the UK was selected as the site for the JET project. In 1978 the “JET Joint Undertaking” was established as a legal entity. Only five years later the construction was completed on time and on budget. On 25th June 1983 the very first JET plasma was achieved and on 9th April 1984 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened this European fusion experiment.

In the history of fusion research the year 1991 is particularly significant: on the 9th November a Preliminary Tritium Experiment achieved the world’s first controlled release of fusion power. Six years later, in 1997, another world record was achieved at JET: 16 mega watts of fusion power were produced from a total input power of 24 mega watts – a 65 % ratio. This is equivalent to a release of 22 mega joules of energy.

A “Remote Handling” system is, in general, an essential tool for any subsequent fusion power plant and especially for ITER. In 1998 JET’s engineers developed a remote handling system with which, for the first time, it was possible to exchange certain components using artificial hands only.

In 1999 the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) was established with responsibility for the future collective use of JET. With the turn of the millennium the “Joint Undertaking” ended and the JET Facilities commenced operating under contract by CCFE (at that time UKAEA). From then, JET’s scientific programme was determined by EFDA.

The sturdiness and flexibility of JET’s original design has made it possible for the device to evolvewith the questions raised in the fusion community and meet the requirements of ITER. JET was converted to Divertor configuration in 1993 and started operation with ITER-like magnetic configurations in 2006. From October 2009 to May 2011 the ITER-Like Wall was installed. As a result JET’s key role in the development of ITER has shaped countless experiments and emphasise the strong bonds between these two tokamaks.