ITER Project Begins
The machine assembly phase of the world's largest nuclear fusion program symbolically kicked off on 28 July 2020 as dignitaries from the seven International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) members acknowledged the importance of the moment during a virtual event. ITER project is a collaborative project between the European Union, the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Russia. After years of delays and challenges, scientists can finally begin the assembly phase on the $20 billion megaproject as announced during the event on 28 July 2020.
- The megaproject was started when a group of industrial nations agreed on a project to develop a new, cleaner, and more sustainable source of energy through nuclear fusion.
- ITER was set in motion at the Geneva Superpower Summit in November 1985 after the idea was proposed by the then head of states of the USSR and the United States.
- One year later an agreement was reached between the US, Russia, Japan, and the European Union. China and South Korea joined the project in 2003 followed by India in 2005.
- The construction of the ITER tokamak facility started in 2013 where the world's largest tokamak device is being built.
- A tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel.
- Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29 July 2020 congratulated members of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) for the success so far and said India is proud to be part of a global enterprise that is at the frontier of science and engineering.
- The ITER is celebrating the start of assembly of the ITER Tokamak with a ceremony at Saint-Paul-Lez-Durance, France where all the heads of states of ITER member countries are participating, either in person or electronically, or conveying his/her message.
- ITER Organisation (IO) is the central team responsible for construction at the site and operation, while the ITER partners created their own domestic agencies to deliver their commitments to ITER. ITER-India is the Indian domestic agency.
- The European Union being the host party contributes 45 per cent while the rest of the parties contribute nine per cent each. Most of these contributions are through 'in-kind' procurement of ITER components.