Work starts in France to recreate power of the Sun

Joanna Estrada
August 1, 2020

Seven main worldwide partners are collaborating to bring ITER's practical fusion power to reality - including China, Europe, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US.

President Emmanuel Macron of France hailed ITER as a "promise of peace", bringing together various countries to forego their differences for the 'common good'.

"Ten years of work, and ten million components will culminate in the world's largest fusion research device", EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in her speech by video to the attendees gathered in person at the ITER site in Cadarache, France, and via livestream.

Nuclear fusion has always been seen as the "holy grail" of energy production as it could create a near-limitless, cheap and clean source of electricity.

On 26 May, the first major component of the nuclear fusion reactor was installed, making it the first of many elements that will enter the so-called "Tokamak Pit" over the next few years.

The chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) Prof Ian Chapman told BBC News that the project is now on a "hugely exciting phase" as most of the project partners aim to change the world with fusion for the future generations.

Japan is in charge of producing the reactor's main parts, including one of the world's largest superconducting coils to confine the high-temperature plasma necessary for nuclear fusion to occur.

More than 70 per cent of carbon emissions come from energy use; and more than 80 per cent of energy consumption comes from fossil fuels.

'Clearly, the pandemic impacted the initial schedule, ' Dr Bigot added on July 28, 2020, during the assembly launch ceremony for ITER's plasma-containing Tokamak device, which was virtually attended by world leaders and national representatives.

"Constructing the machine piece by piece will be like assembling a three-dimensional puzzle on an intricate timeline", said ITER's director general Bernard Bigot.

"Practical fusion energy will be one of the greatest achievements in human history, and ITER is a critical step on the road to get there", said GA Vice President of Magnetic Fusion Energy Tony Taylor.

The project's estimated cost just for the European Union was about 20 billion euros ($23.5 billion), Bigot told reporters.

ITER could produce its first plasma at the end of 2025-beginning of 2026, and the reactor could reach full power in 2035. A pineapple-sized amount of this fuel is the equivalent of 10,000 tons of coal.

While it could reach full power by 2035, the experimental project is not created to produce electricity.

If the technology proves feasible, future fusion reactors would be capable of powering two million homes each at an operational cost comparable to those of conventional nuclear reactors, Bigot said.

The ITER plant is designed for 500 megawatt output, which if connected to a power grid translates into 200 MW of electricity, enough to provide power to 200,000 households.

"Delivering fusion energy for humanity is far from easy".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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