ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy

Controlled thermonuclear fusion is on the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan roadmap (also known as SET Plan) as a technology which offers the prospect of an intrinsically safe, virtually inexhaustible energy source. From a global perspective, there is a need for massive base load electricity production. Can fusion be developed to become economically competitive? When will fusion be contributing to electricity production? The next step in the development of a fusion reactor is the ITER experiment under construction at Cadarache France. ITER is an international collaboration between the EU, Japan, USA, Russian Federation, China, South Korea and India. The International ITER Agreement was signed in October 2006. The mission is as follows:

  • Start operation 2018.
  • Demonstrate capability of steady state fusion power production.
  • Optimise burning plasma confinement under reactor conditions.
  • Have dimensions comparable to a power station and produce about 500 MW of fusion power (10x more power than needed to run it).
  • Demonstrate or develop new technologies and materials required for fusion power stations.

The initial phase of the project has included a design review and an update of the scope, schedule and cost which takes consideration of new developments and recent progress in fusion research. Procurement is underway for long lead­time components.