Fusion technology breakthroughs and business incentives join forces at ISFNT-11
Right to left: H.Bindslev, F4E Director, welcomes J.Sanchez, CIEMAT Director and P.Torres, Secretary of Enterprise and Competitiveness of Catalonia at the F4E exhibition stand
The International Symposium on Fusion Nuclear Technology (ISFNT-11) is one of the three major events that the fusion community proudly organises in order to exchange know-how, debate technology breakthroughs and report on new achievements carried out by fusion Associations and industry. During the scientific sessions, technology is being reviewed rigorously and lively discussions unfold about the next steps the fusion community needs to take.
Dr. Joaquin Sánchez, Director of Spain’s National Fusion Laboratory and General Chair of this year’s ISFNT, opened the event by confirming that the symposium gathered more than 800 participants with particular focus on plasma technology, breeding blanket technology, the Broader Approach and DEMO. “The fusion community is growing. I’m not only talking in terms of numbers but also in terms of ambition. We are here to discuss the progress we have made so that we position this technology as a viable alternative” he explained in his opening speech.
Dr. Hideyuki Takatsu, Chair of the ISFNT International Standing Committee, stressed that “one of the novelties of this event is the possibility to discuss near and long term challenges that fusion technology faces. We will go beyond the state of the art and aim to inspire the future generations by discussing for instance the fusion roadmap and DEMO” he stated.
Given the fact that this year’s ISFNT was taking place in Barcelona, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of IREC and CIEMAT to organise the event in collaboration with the Catalan authorities, CDTI, b-TEC and F4E, ensuring a wide presence through a series of presentations and posters as part of the scientific programme. Furthermore, sessions targeting industry and SMEs were also planned in order to stimulate business interest and raise awareness about the direct benefits through their involvement.
Professor Henrik Bindslev, took the opportunity to welcome all participants to Barcelona, the seat of F4E, and highlighted the need for closer collaboration between Associations, industry and policy-makers. “We need to work in this knowledge triangle and deliver fast. We need to build communication channels between these communities so that technology breakthroughs turn into commercial realities” he explained. On the same train of thought, Perre Torres, Secretary for Labour and Competitiveness of the Catalan authorities, emphasised the tangible benefits stemming from a project like ITER in terms of jobs, knowledge and its contribution to a new diversified and sustainable energy model. It was the perfect moment for Professor Osamu Motojima to take the floor and deliver a status report on ITER. “Fusion is not a dream. It has become a target” he explained and then reported on a series of key events like the ministerial meeting that took place earlier in September, the inauguration of the ITER IO headquarters, the French prime ministerial decree on ITER and elaborated on the progress of several components in the fields of magnets, cryogenics, vacuum vessel, buildings and construction.
Investing in fusion is important not only for the success of ITER but also for stimulating further progress on the technological front. Industry and SMEs play a key role in fulfilling this task. Therefore, an industrial exhibition was planned to offer visibility to all companies attending the event and an industrial workshop to raise awareness of the upcoming business opportunities. Belén del Cerro, Spain’s Industry Liaison officer for ITER, chaired the workshop and in her opening remarks reminded the audience that “strengthening the participation of industry in the ITER project is a top priority.”
Professor Henrik Bindslev took the opportunity to present the F4E industrial policy together with a list of actions that will facilitate and assist the participation of industry and SMEs. “In spring, we established four working groups in collaboration with ILOs to address the concerns expressed by European economic operators. We have listened and revised our rules to make them compatible with the business ethos of our times. We will make participation simpler across all levels with ILOs, reduce administrative burden, limit liabilities as well as guarantees and afford contractors exclusive intellectual property rights and ownership in almost all cases.” The new guidelines were perceived as a positive signal to industry and SMEs with ILOs stressing the need for more interaction with F4E and ITER IO.
So where do we stand in terms of Europe’s procurement packages and are there any business opportunities in the horizon? Jean- Marc Filhol, Head of F4E’s ITER Department, gave answers to these questions offering a wealth of data. Since 2009, 25 Information Days have been organised bringing together more than 1340 representatives from industry, SMEs and Associations. 50 market surveys have been conducted to identify expertise across business operators in Europe. As of July 2013, F4E has signed more than 200 operational procurement contracts and approximately 100 grants with a total value of 2.4 billion EUR, a substantial share of Europe’s in-kind contribution. The presentation gave an overview of the progress made on different ITER components and provided a preview of the big tenders carried out this year mainly from the areas of magnets and buildings. The presentation was complemented by two F4E interventions reporting on the cryoplant and fuel cycle by Alain Teissier and another on the Neutal Beam Test Facility and gyrotorn power supplies by Tulio Bonicelli.
The uniqueness of the ITER project has raised the need for new ways of collaboration between industry and research centres. Maite Dominguez representing the Fusion Industry Innovation Forum (FIIF) explained why industry is of fundamental importance so that fusion technology takes off. F4E’s Victor Saez reported on a cluster of activities that will consolidate the partnership between research centres and industry and highlighted the added value of both parties.
The 11th ISFNT offered participants the possibility to present the current progress of fusion technology by means of presentations and posters, debate the energy roadmap and the evolution of future fusion devices in plenary sessions and bring research closer to business, industry and SMEs through networking events and seminars. The symposium broke the news about F4E’s industry policy and gave the impression that fusion technology is moving in the right direction. The next ISFNT will take place in South Korea between 14-18 September 2015. See you all there!
Professor Osamu Motojima, ITER IO Director General with Jean-Marc Filhol, F4E Head of ITER Department
Technical experts discuss new findings during the ISFNT-11 poster sessions