On Tuesday, July 28, the assembly and installation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) officially started in southern France. ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy. The unique international project, in which European Union countries such as the USA, China, India, Japan, and South Korea take part, has now moved on to the final stage.
Thirty-five 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 Sun and stars.
The EU covers the largest share of the ITER plant's construction costs – 45.6 %. The rest of the partners contribute 9 % of the total amount. Investors do not just invest in the project, but also supply equipment and components for the reactor and develop appropriate technologies.
The French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, and representatives of other countries – project partners took part in the ceremony to mark the start of installation work.
"Enabling the exclusive use of clean energy will be a miracle for our planet," said Bernard Bigot, the director-general of ITER. He said fusion, alongside renewable energy, would allow transport, buildings, and industry to run on electricity.
But Bigot said: "Constructing the machine piece-by-piece will be like assembling a three-dimensional puzzle on an intricate timeline with the precision of a Swiss watch." The ITER project was conceived in 1985 but has suffered delays.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was held online.