The world’s most expensive science experiment, the ITER project, aims to produce energy the way sun does, via fusion.
The ITER fusion research project was officially signed by the seven partners committed to its construction – the EU, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States – on 21 November 2006.
The construction of the ITER reactor in Cadarache, southern France will start in 2007 and take at least ten years. The EU will contribute around 50% of its total costs, estimated at €10 billion, and the other partners up to 10% each. An experimental reactor could be fully operational by 2040.
Supporters of the project claim that nuclear fusion will result in an environmentally friendly, cost effective and potentially inexhaustible supply of energy that will eventually replace oil and gas. They also expect the project to create some 10,000 new jobs.
Opponents say that it is waste of money and fear it will reduce funding for research on renewable energy sources, which are closer to breakthrough and could bring results earlier, while environmentalists argue that fusion is neither clean nor safe.