Iter parties agree new funding

29 July 2010

Countries taking part in the Iter project have agreed the project's schedule and costs, reportedly putting in extra money after the doubling of construction costs. 


An extraordinary meeting of the Iter Council yesterday 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. After research and development at Iter it should be possible to build a demonstration fusion power plant around 2030.


First plasma is now slated for November 2019 - about a year after the previous schedule - and the start of deuterium-tritium operation is set for March 2027, although the Iter Organisation was encouraged to explore ways to bring this forward to 2026.

Details of the cost were not revealed in the official statement found on the Iter website but it is thought to have ballooned to require an extra €1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) from European funds for the 2012-3 period. Europe is paying 45% of the construction costs, while the other participants (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA) are paying 9% each.


One Brussels study on Iter costings noted a 2001 estimate for construction was €5.9 billion, of which the EU's Euratom budgets were supposed to fund €2.7 billion (€1.7 billion in kind with components and systems and €945 million in cash). Earlier this month the commission admitted there were "substantial overall cost increases for Iter, which have more than doubled the costs for Europe."


Chairing the Iter Council meeting that approved the budget, Evgeny Velikhov said: "What we are achieving here is to ensure not only the success of Iter but also the success of fusion."


Reports on the new cost and spending commitments from the parties could not be confirmed. Iter staff were thought to be busy in meetings following the changeover to leadership by a new director general - Osamu Motojima. Previous head Kaname Ikeda led the organisation from late 2005 and had requested to resign "at the moment the Iter baseline would be approved."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News