After long and difficult negotiations, the six parties to the international negotiations on the ITER nuclear fusion research project have decided that ITER should be located at the site proposed by the EU – Cadarache in southern France.
The agreement by China, EU, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States ends the deadlock as to which of two alternative sites should be chosen to host the reactor. The decision is an important milestone in the move towards establishing fusion as a sustainable source of energy production. ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is the experimental step between today’s studies of plasma physics and tomorrow’s electricity-producing fusion power plants.
The ITER reactor is based around a hydrogen plasma torus operating at over 100 million°C, and will produce 500 megawatts of fusion power. Fusion research is considered worth pursuing because it promises to be a widely available energy source with an essentially unlimited supply and a manageable environmental impact.
At a meeting in Moscow on 28 June, the six international parties co-operating in the project agreed that the site in Cadarache (France) suggested by the EU was preferable to the alternative in Rokkahos-mura (Japan). The decision will have significant implications for EU industry. Hosting the 5 billion euro project will enable the EU to maintain its position at the forefront of fusion research.