The day to celebrate the start of ITER assembly has come. The international scientific partnership that will test the potential of fusion energy is writing a fascinating new chapter as the massive components from all over the world have started to arrive and are gradually put together. The gigantic technology has started taking shape. During a moving ceremony which paid tribute to the contributions of the seven ITER Parties, Dr. Bernard Bigot, Director-General of ITER Organization, highlighted the importance of this milestone and praised the commitment of the scientific community, the involvement of industry and the support received by politicians for seeing this through. Using live streaming, the event kicked off with a tour on-site giving viewers the opportunity to visit the main buildings and facilities. We opened the doors of the factory where the Poloidal Field coils are manufactured, the Cleaning Facility, the Assembly Hall where the ITER components will be put together and last but not least, we entered the Tokamak building– the home of the device. Europe is the party responsible for the construction of all buildings and facilities on-site and their timely delivery has been a major achievement.
Leading political figures from the seven ITER parties united their voices to stress the importance of international collaboration. Through their interventions they praised the role of science and technology, the value of foresight in shaking the status quo and making us take bold steps into the future. The messages delivered by France’s President E. Macron, Dr. M. Meister, Parliamentary State Secretary of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research; K. Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy, stressed the one-of-a-kind nature of ITER and its strategic importance as we try to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and aim towards a greener energy mix.
The event concluded with a press conference during which Dr. Bernard Bigot took questions from journalists on various subjects regarding the progress so far and the phases to come. Johannes Schwemmer, F4E Director, was interviewed by Euronews on the potential of fusion energy and the long-term contribution of ITER.
The start of ITER assembly has given a new momentum to the project. It has awakened the enthusiasm of many who are eager to witness its first plasma operations and drove media attention its site in Cadarache. The prospect of harnessing the energy of Sun is full of challenges. But this is when human creativity thrives and surprises us all.