ITER – an international venture
The ITER project is a massive undertaking on the road to fusion power. It is expected to cost around €10 billion over its 35-year experimental lifetime. Its results are of critical international interest and it is, therefore, a truly global project.
The idea for ITER as an international experiment was first proposed in 1985 and started as a collaboration between the former Soviet Union, the United States, the European Union and Japan under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Today, the international consortium consists of the People's Republic of China, the European Union , Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States. Other countries are expected to join as ITER moves from design to reality.
ITER is a multinational collaboration between countries involved in fusion research worldwide. It operates by consensus among the participants. In a way, it extends the European research and development model that has enjoyed success in the Euratom fusion programme with JET to the whole world.
Conceptual and engineering studies for ITER led to a detailed design that was finalised in 2001. This design was underpinned by a large research programme that has established the practical feasibility of ITER and involved industry for the construction of full-scale prototypes of key ITER components. The successful testing of these components, such as the superconducting magnets, has given a key boost to confidence in the project.
As well as fusion scientists and engineers, the ITER project will require a wide range of highly skilled staff.
Building and operating ITER is a huge international challenge for science, engineering and technology working at the limit of human knowledge. This has built on the leading fusion experiments, such as Euratom’s JET, JT-60 in Japan and TFTR in the US, and the fusion experiments in the Euratom programme: all have provided expertise and data in fusion physics and technology in preparation for ITER.
The scientific challenge is great, but the global need for such a clean and sustainable energy sources is even greater!