The European Union is investing €5.6 billion in a project to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) by 2027, Hungarian news portal Mandiner reports.
The Council of the European Union on Monday adopted a decision to ensure that European funding for the project will continue during the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. The indicative European contribution for the project for the period 2021-2027 is €5.61 billion at current prices.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Agreement was signed in November 2006 by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), the United States, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, and India. Euratom, the host party under the ITER Agreement, has taken the lead in the project to test the feasibility of nuclear fusion as an energy source.
Assembly of the world’s first power plant-sized fusion experimental facility began last July in Cadarache, France.
The project is funded and run by seven members: the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, while a total of 35 countries are involved in the project directly or indirectly. Construction of the ITER tokamak reactor complex began in 2013 and the building costs totaled over $14 billion by June 2015. The overall price of construction and operations is currently estimated to exceed €22 billion.
In its own assessment, the US Department of Energy has calculated that the total construction costs through 2025, including in-kind contributions, will be $65 billion, a figure disputed by ITER. When completed, the ITER will be the most expensive scientific endeavor in human history.
The European Commission estimates that the first plasma will be created by December 2025 and is expected to be fully operational by 2035. As a viable commercial energy source, fusion energy will not generate electricity before 2050.
Title image: Schematic of the ITER reactor and adjacent installations.