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New schedule for Iter fusion facility to be presented in summer

Image: ITER Organization

Baseline plan for international demonstrator covers changes to materials and phased installation

International fusion-energy facility Iter has announced it has begun formulating a new schedule that will be presented to its governing council in June.

The frontier-pushing nuclear fusion demonstration plant, which has been under construction in France since 2010, has suffered several delays in recent years, pushing back targets to achieve its first plasma containment and energy generation. 

Recent setbacks include “delays incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, repairs to key components and other technical challenges with first-of-a-kind components, and a revised path to nuclear licensing”, Iter said on 19 February.

The new baseline plan will account for changes to the materials used in the facility, increased testing of components and phased installation to “minimise operational risks”, it said.

Managers expect to submit the plan for discussion by the Iter Science and Technology Advisory Committee in May, and then to the Iter Council—which is responsible for the facility’s policies—in June.

The facility is a collaboration between the EU, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, each of which appointed five experts to contribute to the new plan.

In response to the delays, the EU has reduced its 2024 budget allocation to Iter by €120 million.