On Monday 31 January, a delegation of 11 members of the European Parliament (MEPs), from nine different countries and four different political groups, led by French MEP Christophe Grudler, travelled to Cadarache. The visit of the ITER site provided an excellent opportunity to check on the progress of the project and discuss the benefits arising from its European leadership. MEPs were welcomed to the site by Bernard Bigot (ITER Director-General), Massimo Garribba (ITER Council Chair), Johannes Schwemmer (F4E Director) and other representatives from the Commission, F4E and ITER organization.
The visit kicked off with presentations from the ITER Director-General providing a detailed explanation of the fusion process, the scientific and technological challenges of ITER and its ultimate goal to pave the way for fusion as a “safe, abundant and environmentally responsible energy source.” In highlighting the importance of Europe’s leadership in the project, Massimo Garribba underlined the benefits for European companies placed at the heart of industrial innovation in many diverse technological areas outside fusion, such as aeronautics, medical equipment and the health sector. F4E Director Johannes Schwemmer provided a detailed status of the manufacturing progress for the systems and components under the responsibility of Europe, showing the economic and technological importance of ITER for European industries and research centres. The manufacturing of the EU components represents a significant injection of EU funds in the industrial fabric of the Union generating growth and jobs for the economy and new business, lasting international partnerships and innovation for the participating companies.
The delegation spent more than two hours on the site currently sparkling with activity, with stops at the Poloidal Field Coil Factory to witness the progress of the gigantic poloidal field coils manufacturing, and at the Cryoplant where Europe has installed the liquid nitrogen plant of the impressive cryogenic system needed to cool down the powerful magnets of ITER, before arriving at the towering Assembly Hall where some of the components will be pre-assembled before being installed in the adjacent Tokamak building, the heart of the ITER machine.
Visiting MEPs were able to gain a first-hand view of the project progress and appreciate closely its scale and complexity. “What we have seen and understood today will enable us to promote ITER and fusion, and to share our conviction with our colleagues in the EU Parliament,” said Grudler, at the end of the visit. ” “We see the work being done, it’s reassuring.”