New schedule agreed for Iter fusion project

World Nuclear News 21 November 2016

An updated schedule for the Iter fusion project has been approved by the Iter Council, which represents the countries taking part in the project. Under the new schedule, first plasma is now slated for 2025 and the start of deuterium-tritium operation is set for 2035.


The Iter site, pictured in June 2016 (Image: Iter)

A two-day meeting of the Iter Council at the Iter headquarters at Saint-Paul-lez-Durance in France unanimously approved the project’s baseline – its overall schedule and cost. The project is to build the world’s biggest tokamak fusion reactor at Cadarache in southern France. It should be large enough and hot enough to reach ‘ignition’ and maintain a stable heat-generating plasma for minutes.

“The overall project schedule was approved by all Iter members, and the overall project cost was approved ad referendum, meaning that it will now fall to each member to seek approval of project costs through respective governmental budget processes,” the Iter Organization said in a statement yesterday.

The Council concluded that project construction and manufacturing have sustained a rapid pace for the past 18 months, “providing tangible evidence of full adherence to commitments”. The successful completion of all 19 project milestones for 2016, on time and on budget, is “a positive indicator of the collective capacity of the Iter Organization and the Domestic Agencies to continue to deliver on the updated schedule”, it said.

The Iter Council added, “The staged approach as selected in the updated schedule after first plasma increases confidence and minimizes risk by focusing on completing Iter in stages and carrying out fusion power experiments in between each stage. This approach is the best way forward in alignment with the priorities and constraints of all Iter members.”

The Iter Council is responsible, in accordance with the Iter Agreement, for the promotion and overall direction of the Iter Organization. The two regular meetings every year – in June and November – can be supplemented by an extraordinary meeting for the examination of specific issues.

Thirty-five nations are collaborating to build Iter. The magnetic fusion device is designed to prove the feasibility of the fusion of hydrogen nuclei as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. The EU is funding half of the cost while the remainder comes in equal parts from six other partners: China, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea and the USA. Construction began in 2010.

First plasma was originally scheduled for 2018 with the start of deuterium-tritium operation set for 2026. However, in July 2010 the Iter Council agreed a new schedule under which first plasma is slated for November 2019, with deuterium-tritium operation starting in March 2027.