August 02, 2020

On Tuesday 28 July, as the machine assembly phase symbolically kicked off, President Macron of France and dignitaries from the seven ITER Members acknowledged the importance of the moment, reaffirmed their confidence in ITER success, and congratulated the “One ITER team” for the remarkable progress accomplished in exceptionally challenging times.
The moment was historic. Ten years after the start of construction in August 2010, ITER was marking a new chapter in its long history. In the months and weeks that preceded Tuesday’s event, several strategic components had been delivered to the construction site—among them one toroidal field coil from Europe and two from Japan. The first vacuum vessel sector from Korea was unloaded at Marseille harbour on 22 July and is expected on site in a little more than a week.
“As we launch the assembly phase of the ITER machine,” said ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot in his introductory address, “we feel the weight of history. It is now one hundred years since scientists first understood that fusion energy was the power source for the Sun and stars and some six decades since the first tokamak was built in the Soviet Union
Speaking remotely from China, Luo Delong, the Head of the ITER Council, saluted “the entire ITER community—every Member, every Domestic Agency, every supplier company and contractor, and every staff member—for their dedication, perseverance, commitment, and hard work. If we are able to continue in this way I have great confidence that we will succeed.”
The moment that followed was both warm and solemn. President Macron of France, speaking from the Elysée Palace in Paris, defined ITER in terms of its promise. ITER is a promise of peace, he said—the proof that “what brings together people and nations is stronger than what pulls them apart.” It is also a “promise of progress and of confidence in science” that, if successful, will be an energy that will “answer the needs of populations in all parts of the world, meet the challenges of climate change and preserve natural resources.” And, perhaps above all, ITER is “an act of confidence” in the future. “ITER belongs to the spirit of discovery, of ambition. At its core is the conviction that science can truly make tomorrow better than today.”
The international dimension of ITER and its importance for world leaders was spectacularly illustrated by the messages that followed President Macron’s address. On a giant screen in the ITER Assembly Hall, in the shadow of giant assembly tools, dignitaries from the seven ITER Members successively appeared to deliver their own message or convey that their heads of state or of government: the Council of the European Union and the European Commission as Host Member, China, India, Japan, Korea (with President Moon Jae-in appearing in person), Russia and the United States. All reaffirmed the unique nature of ITER and its importance for the future of humankind.
ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today.
In Saint-Paul-LèsDurance, southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.
Fusion power has the potential to provide sufficient energy to satisfy mounting demand, and to do so sustainably, with a relatively small impact on the environment. 1 gram of deuterium-tritium mixture in the process of nuclear fusion produces an amount of energy equivalent to burning 80,000 tonnes of oil.
(Source: ITER/Wikipedia – Image: ITER facility under construction at sunset)