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A Word from the Director

ITER is a unique fusion science and technology research facility. It represents a key milestone for the future of energy: safe, economically sound, environmentally friendly. Fusion offers a massive and continuous power supply. It poses no concerns related to long-lived radioactive waste. And it is sustainable, with abundant natural fuel resources. It is a legacy we will be proud to leave to our children.

The ITER Project is on the move. The pace of work on the construction platform is increasing, in particular for the Tokamak Complex where two basement levels have emerged and work is underway on the bioshield and cryostat crown support system. Buildings, systems, and structures are emerging. Manufacturing is underway at dozens of ITER Member locations worldwide. The first components have been installed. More are en route. Most major manufacturing contracts have been signed.

We have also transformed the ITER Organization to drive an integrated "project culture" extending across the ITER central team and the Domestic Agencies. Together, we have created a comprehensive, integrated schedule accounting for more than 150,000 separate activities and the one million components that will go into creating the ITER machine.

The proposed updated schedule identifies 2025 as the earliest technically achievable date for First Plasma, and 2035 as the start of Deuterium-Tritium Operations (fusion operation). The ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies are now working collectively to meet the milestones detailed in the overall project schedule, which was approved by the ITER Council in November 2016.

I invite you to become an ITER partner. Explore the website. Learn more about the promise of fusion and ITER progress. ITER represents multinational collaboration on a grand scale: an essential feature for the future of our civilization.

Bernard Bigot, ITER Organization Director-General

Photo:©CEA-L.Godart

"Interest in nuclear fusion has risen immensely"

Die Welt, 10 April 2017

The experimental reactor ITER is intended to solve mankind's energy problems. According to Director General Bernard Bigot more and more countries want to join. But they all share one concern. Die Welt's Daniel Wetzel reports.

Mr. Bigot, ITER is the largest project of the international community. But at the moment it seems as if nations are drifting apart. Will the ITER project survive Brexit and Trump?

I have received a provisional pledge from the British government that they want to stay on the ITER project. And they have also made a clear statement in the Brexit document. It is not at all compulsory that Brexit must also mean the complete withdrawal from Euratom, in which the European ITER partners are organized. And withdrawal from Euratom would not necessarily mean withdrawal from ITER. The British fusion organizations and scientists are eager to continue their contribution to ITER through collaboration with Fusion for Energy, the EU body managing Europe's contribution to ITER, and the EUROfusion research collaboration. All of these aspects will have to be negotiated.

Do you hear the same from the US?

I visited the US after the inauguration of President Trump, and I spoke with Congressmen, the Department of Energy and the State Department. There are clearly uncertainties. My expectation is that every nation defends its own interests, whatever they may be. And the US wants to know if fusion technology works. Even though they have plenty of gas, oil and space for windmills and solar fields. It is the country that burns the most energy resources in the world. The Americans know that their current way of meeting the energy demand cannot last forever.

The US president is not exactly a friend of international cooperation.

I hear that the US president has nothing against international cooperation as long as it is a good deal for the US.

And is that so? The experimental reactor is being built in the South of France. And Europe accounts for 45 percent of the project.

That's why it's in fact a very good deal for Mr Trump. The US is paying only nine percent of the costs, but has access to 100 percent of the research results. In addition, the US has conducted outstanding research into fusion technology and has already built its own plants. If it withdrew from the Iter project, the US would have to pursue this technology alone. Because none of today's ITER partners would be likely to cooperate with them.

You might get over losing a financial share of 9 percent. But could ITER do without the technical input of the US?  

It would be very difficult to do without the US expertise. The central solenoid, for example, the most powerful magnet in the world, consists of 1,000 tonnes of superconducting material. These are not static, but dynamic coils, in which the magnetic field constantly moves up and down. This requires a great deal of expertise, and the US companies are able to deliver it. The same applies to ITER's fuel recycling, that is, the renewal of used tritium and deuterium. The US is the best in doing that. It would take us very long to recover from a potential American retreat. That is why it is so important for me that each of the seven ITER Members, not just the USA, feel that we are now serious about delivering.

And, can you deliver? Within the research community, they still tell the old joke about the "fusion constant": According to this, the first fusion reactor is always ready "in 40 to 50 years from now" — no matter when you ask.

That was before I started here. I have committed myself to deliver the first plasma within the budget in 2025. The schedule is fixed. In April 2016, 14 independent experts with special experience in the management of major projects have certified that we are relying on the best and most realistic schedule and planning.

Before you took office, the US and other important partners were still considering stepping out of the project. The costs exploded, the work did not progress. What had happened?

My predecessor had not made it clear enough that Iter is not just a research project, but an industrial one. As a researcher you gather all opinions, try to please everyone. But here you have to make decisions. I therefore accepted the office only on the basis that the Director-General has full decision-making powers. The seven ITER Member States have understood that this is the only way forward. This was a turning point. I got full power of authority, full authority over the staff, and I got a special fund of one billion euros that gives me the freedom to make decisions quickly. It relieves me of the obligation to apply for new financial resources for every new problem with all seven members.

The interview of Director-General Bigot continues on www.welt.de.

A dream of clean energy at a very high price

The New York Times, 27 March 2017

On the front page of the Science section, journalist Henry Fountain takes readers to the busy ITER construction site, where "workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge." In reviewing the ambitions, the status and the challenges of ITER, he speaks with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, fusioneers and members of the US government.

Visit The New York Times for the full article.

New Head of ITER sweeps clean

Fusion in Europe, August 2015

An authentic comment from ITER's Director-General Bernard Bigot in the magazine Nature caused the fusion society to hold its breath. In the article "Pull together for fusion," published on 9 June 2015, Bernard Bigot listed several problems of mismanagement and miscommunication within the ITER Project and discussed how he intends to adjust the ITER management board proper to meet its needs. Fusion in Europe talks to Bernard Bigot about the details in the changed communication within the coming experiment on fusion, its delayed schedule and its influence on the European fusion roadmap. To the Director-General of the ITER Organization, EUROfusion's key facility, the Joint European Torus (JET) is of particular value for the mitigation of risks in future ITER plasmas.


Press interview on the results of the November 2015 ITER Council

The ITER Council, which meets twice a year, is responsible for the promotion and overall direction of the ITER Organization. In November 2015, the ITER Council convened for the seventeenth time in a session that focused on the long-term schedule for the project. At the conclusion of the meeting, Director-General Bernard Bigot shared the outcome with members of the press.

During the Council meeting on 18-19 November, you presented an updated long-term schedule. Can you tell us how this schedule was received?

The meeting went well. Representatives from all of the ITER Members were able to ask questions, express their concerns, and formulate requests. In the end, we reached an agreement. The Council noted the proposal I made for the best technically achievable schedule for the project, and now the governing body of the ITER Organization needs additional time to be able to endorse—or amend—the proposal with resources.

The updated long-term schedule, and associated budget and staffing resources, will now be the object of an independent review mandated by the Council. The Council has committed to completing its review by June 2016; this is good news. The ITER Project will have a new schedule and, what's more, a new Baseline.

Can you give us an idea of the key dates of the new schedule?

Until the Council completes its analysis, no definitive project schedule can be announced. Of course we could not expect immediate approval of our proposals related to schedule, budget, and staffing. A fully qualified panel of experts will be mandated to verify the consistency and reliability of the proposed schedule, and also to see if there are areas that can be improved or accelerated. ITER is funded through public investment and this level of scrutiny is absolutely to be expected.

While the Council is deliberating, the members have agreed to give us the resources to perform to the milestones for 2016 and 2017. This is the best result that I could expect. It allows us to really keep the momentum.

The Council clearly expressed its appreciation for the progress accomplished in eight months on site, within the management team, by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, and in factories. We have a more integrated way of working. My commitment is that the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies never be the blocking point, the limiting step, for suppliers to deliver.

You spoke of having the resources you need for the next two years. What milestones must be achieved?

These management, construction and manufacturing milestones were specifically expressed in the Record of Decisions of the Council meeting, for example: the award of the Construction Management-as-Agent contract in 2016, the completion of winding on the first central solenoid module, the beginning of work on the B1 basement level of the Tokamak Complex, and the entry into service of the 400 kV switchyard. If my memory serves me well, there are 20 high-level milestones in 2016 and 9 in 2017. The way forward is clear; each Domestic Agency has a list.

Milestones are a way of managing a project that is a large and as complex as ITER. Below the highest-level milestones are many different strata—approximately 250 activities in the Level 1 schedule, 1,200 in the Level 2 schedule, and more than 150,000 sequences in the Level 3 schedule—each one a precisely defined task with an assigned owner. ITER is an industrial project now.

Is it fair to say that you have short-term approval?

The main thing is not to lose time—all are agreed on this. We need a clear schedule and resources. We have the chance in two years to demonstrate reliability and to confirm and consolidate trust.

We were able to keep our commitment to the Council at the needed level of quality and in the limited amount of time we set for ourselves. To do so required the integrated scientific insight, engineering skills, and managerial competencies of every part of the organization. As a team, we performed a bottom-up assessment of the project. As a team, we found solutions to design challenges. As a team, we conducted an exhaustive and comprehensive integrated review. We have taken the first essential steps toward establishing a much-needed project culture. 

Can you tell us more about the independent review?

The ITER Council wants to be sure of the credibility and the reliability of the proposed schedule to First Plasma. Is everything consistent? Can any improvements be identified? The review will be an external vision, provided by a panel of fully qualified experts who are specialized in tokamaks or large construction projects. These experts will give advice based on experience.

Did the Council identify any technical issues needing more examination?

This is a research installation, but for now it has to be managed like a construction project. The planned operational program is in the hands of researchers. This is why we are establishing a network of Scientist Fellows on a goodwill basis—scientists who agree to focus their research on pending questions related to ITER operation. The 25- to 30-year-old researchers today will be in charge of operating the machine tomorrow! If they don't "take ownership" of it in a figurative sense before then, they will not be ready.

Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion

Nature, 09 June 2015

In June 2005, a group of industrial nations agreed on the location for the world's largest nuclear-fusion experiment: ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which they had decided to build jointly.
 
Today, roughly EUR 4 billion worth of construction contracts and EUR 3 billion in manufacturing contracts worldwide are underway and the first large components are being delivered to the site at St-Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.
 
Faced with slippage in the schedule—despite the best efforts of the more than 2,000 dedicated people working on ITER—in March 2015 the ITER Council moved to appoint Bernard Bigot, from France, to the top management position of the project.
 
Visit Nature for the full article.

An interview with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot

ITER Newsline, 8 March 2015 

An academic, scientist and high-level civil servant who "has always been concerned with energy issues," Bernard Bigot, from France, is the third Director-General to be named at the head of the ITER Organization. He succeeds physicist Osamu Motojima, who was appointed in 2010, and Ambassador Kaname Ikeda, who led the project from late 2005 to 2010.
 
As he takes up his duties, Mr Bigot reflects on the reasons why he accepted the nomination and draws a broad outline of the action plan that he will implement.
 
"We are now entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly," he says. "This new phase requires a new organization—one tailored to meet these two major challenges, because what we have to deliver now is both a research and an industrial facility."

Tough Questions for ITER's New Director General

IEEE Spectrum, March 2015

On 5 March, you presented an action plan, proposing changes to the management of ITER. What are the specific problems that you are addressing? 

What has plagued the ITER project so far is that we had no efficient decision process, caused by the fact that the ITER Organization and the seven domestic agencies did not operate as an integrated team.  We have to make decisions every day, take financial decisions; we need to learn to work together. The question is not to 'control,' but the capacity to work together.

What are the changes you proposed?

Bigot:  There are three important points. The first one is that the members, represented by the domestic agencies  they have established, must consider it fully legitimate that the Director General is fully empowered to take any decision with eventual implications to the main interest of the project. The domestic agencies and the Central Team, here in France, worked quite independently, and I strongly believe that they should work closely together and be placed on an equal footing, and that we need someone who can arbitrate.  

Secondly, we need to set up an organization in such a way that people feel associated with the decisions taken. We will set up an Executive Project Board that will be chaired by the DG, and in which the seven domestic agencies will be represented by their heads. In this way we can discuss issues and take decisions. Previously, representatives of the domestic agencies had also the rank of Deputy-Director General, confusing the technical role they had in the ITER Central Team and their responsibility in representing their own country. Now the Central team consists only of technical people, that way we simplify the process of diffusion and discussion.

My last point is that I will ask the ITER Council to provide the DG with a reserve fund that will be fully available to implement the technical decisions taken by the Executive Project Board. We are now in a new  phase, starting with the assembly of the test reactor, and we have to operate as a single organization, despite the fact that the domestic agencies will continue as legally separate organizations.

Past delays and mistrust of the technology have sometimes resulted in funding problems. Is outreach sufficient?

Bigot: The questions are legitimate, and that is why we have to communicate.  We have to answer these questions, and not only from the general public.  A large part of my duties will be to keep in close touch with the members, with political leaders, congressmen, in such a way that they feel fully associated, fully understanding how we work, and what the possibilities of this technology are.

We have to demonstrate that we can deliver. ITER is not just a nice research project, it has to fulfill the expectation that in the long term fusion will be a reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly way to supply energy.

What makes you optimistic that the ITER project will succeed in demonstrating this?

Bigot:  I have now visited several of the members, and I realize there are many issues to be addressed. So far we are moving in the right direction. The more we advance with the project, the more we see what the difficulties are and we address them, and we find solutions. For example, a few years ago we did not master the technology for producing superconducting coils required for the large magnets. We are now proceeding with the manufacture, and we're satisfied with the results.   

And it is encouraging that some members are considering the next step, after ITER. China, with its large population, expects that fusion technology will be able to provide a share of their energy supplies some time this century. We view their own plans for fusion energy as an endorsement of ITER.  

Read the full interview in the IEEE Spectrum.

17 Nov 2016

ITER Council endorses updated project schedule to Deuterium-Tritium Operation

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30 Sep 2016

ITER signs Cooperation Agreement with Australia

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28 Jun 2016

ITER awards mega contract for assembly of Tokamak and support plant

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16 Jun 2016

ITER Council endorses updated schedule focused on First Plasma

Download the press release
27 Apr 2016

ITER Council Review Group provides external validation of project progress

Download the press release
12 Jan 2016

Won Namkung takes helm of the ITER Council

Download the press release
22 Dec 2015

First machine components reach ITER

Download the press release
19 Nov 2015

ITER Project progressing well despite delays

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09 Nov 2015

Gyung-Su Lee appointed Deputy-Director General of the ITER Organization

Download the press release
17 Sep 2015

A multinational success: ITER superconductor production nears completion

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18 Jun 2015

Visible progress in ITER, but still important issues to be resolved

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04 May 2015

Eisuke Tada appointed Deputy-Director General of the ITER Organization

Download the press release
05 Mar 2015

Bernard Bigot is the new ITER Director-General

Download the press release

    ITER Progress in Pictures, November 2015

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    ITER Progress in Pictures, November 2016

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    ITER Business Forum brochure (March 2015)

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    Planet ITER, February 2017

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    ITER Organization 2015 Annual Report

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    5 SEPTEMBER 2016

    Welcome address to the first group of ITER Scientist Fellows (excerpts)

    It's a great pleasure for me to be able to address this first Workshop of the ITER Scientist Fellows today. Now that we have a challenging, but reliable, best technically achievable schedule up to First Plasma by December 2025, and a subsequent staged approach to D-T commissioning and full fusion power by 2035 which allows the scientists to perform their first plasma physics experiments by 2028, I feel strongly that the scientific community must prepare itself to play its expected leading role in ITER exploitation and that these preparations should begin immediately.
     
    [...]
     
    Even before taking up my appointment as ITER Director-General in March 2015, the necessity of implementing the preparations for ITER operation was a central part of my vision for the next phase of the project. Establishing an organizational structure within the ITER Project to develop the necessary activities is certainly a prerequisite, and Science & Operations Department has the charge to pursue this as a central element of its mission.
     
    However, to make a success of ITER exploitation, it is essential that the scientific community sees ITER as "its experiment" and starts to make ITER's research program its own research program. It is for this reason that I proposed launching the ITER Scientist Fellow Network.
     
    For me it is self-evident that, to take full advantage of ITER's research possibilities, the scientific community needs to start thinking now about the key questions relating to ITER's scientific exploitation: what are the critical physics issues that we need to resolve to ensure that ITER can be operated successfully? What preparations should we be putting in place to ensure that we have the necessary scientific tools to fully exploit ITER's experimental results? How are we going to approach the development of the ITER experimental program and how are we going to plot a path from First Plasma to fusion power production on a well-thought priority sequence? What new science might come from studying burning plasmas in ITER?
     
    I am expecting that quite a few of you sitting here today are going to play an active, possibly a leading, role in ITER exploitation when the construction is complete. The ITER Scientist Fellows' Network is intended to provide you with the opportunity to start playing an active role now and, in time, to be a member of the community which takes ownership of the ITER scientific programme. I see benefits to ITER and to you, the ITER Scientist Fellows, through your involvement in this Network. Indeed, it's a unique opportunity for "cross-fertilization": you will play a key role in the development of the ITER scientific program via contributions to the resolution of outstanding research issues and, in return, you can benefit from close ties to the ITER team and access to a scientific and technological environment that can enrich your work back home.
    [...]

    16 June 2016

    Speech for the arrival of the first major components from China (excerpts)

    [...] Thanks to the efforts of many of you, on Friday 10 June at 3:30 a.m. the first of three transformers belonging to the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN) arrived on ITER site. The PPEN is a key component for Tokamak operation since it is the network that will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.

    Achieved by the Chinese Domestic Agency, the milestone also represents the arrival of the first major component from China.

    Let me present a few facts on ITER's pulsed power electrical network.

    * ITER will have two separate electrical networks to distribute power through the installation: the steady state electrical network (SSEN) that will bring down the high-tension grid voltage from 400 kV to the standard 20 kV of industrial facilities; and the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN) that will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.
    * The PPEN network is not at all standard; indeed, it is specific to fusion machines, which need large inputs of electrical power for brief periods ("peak power"). Peak power is as remarkable as any of the project's other distinctive features—when ITER will reach the Deuterium-Tritium Operation phase, the instantaneous power consumption during pulses will be as large as 450 MW, about half the output of a large conventional power plant.
    * The PPEN units are massive structures that will weigh approximately 460 tonnes each when completely filled with insulating oil and fitted out with the proper bushings.


    A few words now about the significance of this milestone.

    After designing many complex pieces of equipment (often beyond the frontier of the best-known technology worldwide at the start the design phase) ... after the qualification of the design and manufacturing processes ... after fabrication by highly skilled engineers, technicians and workers ... and, finally, after the shipment and transport ... comes the time for reception here on site by the ITER Organization.

    It is all of these efforts and achievements together—performed in a timely manner to the highest standards of quality, safety and performance—that we celebrate today with our Chinese partners, Agence ITER France, the transport company DAHER, the European Domestic Agency and ITER Council Members. I would like this morning to thank all who have contributed and to share my sincere appreciation for your accomplishment. It shows the way for the work that remains to be accomplished in the years to come.

    In the context of the Eighteenth ITER Council's approval of the updated schedule to First Plasma, this milestone is particularly important. Now, each one of us has to feel ownership and personal accountability for this new schedule. I have no doubt that if we work in the same spirit and in a tightly integrated way—cultivating professional excellence, mutual trust and team spirit with the same dedication and determination—that we will succeed, despite the extraordinary size of the challenges, to deliver the ITER research facility to the fusion scientific community on scope, on time and on budget.

    20 April 2016

    Statement before the US House of Representatives
    (Subcommittee on Energy Committee on Science, Space and Technology)

    Today we are at a critical time in the history of the ITER Project and the ITER Organization. Since I accepted the position of Director-General, 13 months ago, I do believe we have been moving at a rapid pace in accordance with the ITER Members' expectation. For the project to move forward, it was essential for us to accomplish two objectives at once: first, to execute sweeping organizational reform, fully addressing and correcting the problems identified in the 2013 Management Assessment report; and second, while in the midst of this reform, to shift from design and early construction activities to full-paced construction and manufacturing, making tangible progress to demonstrate we had the capacity, with reliability, to actually build the machine.

    I am pleased to say, looking back, that we have done both. Today is no time for relaxation or self-congratulation, but it is worth reflecting on how we have gotten ITER back on track, because we must understand how to sustain this pace, keep our momentum, while continuing to improve in several specific areas.  [...]
     
    Fundamentally, I hope to answer three questions in this hearing that I believe are of relevance to you, as responsible leaders and decision-makers: Why should the United States and other ITER members have confidence that the ITER Project is back on track? Why should we consider ITER and its global partnership a sound investment for its Members, and for the US in particular? Why should there be a greater global sense of urgency about the importance of fusion to our future?

    Click here for the full text of Director-General Bigot's written testimony to the Committee.

    21 January 2016

    New Year's address to staff (excerpts)
     
    It is not an easy task to gather the whole—or at least a large part—of the ITER staff outside our Headquarters Building. So let me first thank you for having accepted my invitation to attend this meeting in the Cryostat Workshop in order to celebrate the new year. Let me also thank our host, India, to whom this building belongs, and our industrial partner, Larsen & Toubro, who has kindly helped us to organize this all-staff meeting.

    Happy new year to you and your families. Happy new year to ITER, too, as we enter this highly critical year for the project, with the expectation of a new baseline approved by all ITER Members not later than June 2016 after a successful Independent Review.... 

    I am told that the last time staff assembled on the worksite was September 2011. At that time, only one construction element stood on the platform—the near-finished Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility. There are now close to a dozen buildings at different stages of completion. It illustrates the progress the project has made in meantime.

    Today, a little more than four years later, we are standing in a building that is a perfect symbol of the international dimension of ITER. The Cryostat Workshop sits on a piece of land that was handed by France to the international ITER Organization, who handed it in turn to India. Men and women from several of the 35 ITER nations will soon work here to assemble and weld the ITER cryostat, the largest vacuum vessel ever built out of stainless steel and a key component of the ITER machine.

    Another potent symbol of our common project sits just behind me. These large pieces of steel are the first tangible parts of the ITER Tokamak. They were manufactured in India by Larsen & Toubro and delivered to the ITER site in mid-December. Once welded, they will form Tier 1 of the cryostat base.

    Look how massive they are, and consider they represent only one-eighth of the total mass of the 3,850-ton ITER cryostat. Indeed, we are building a big machine....

    For ITER and for all of us, the year 2015 marked a turning point. A deep and indispensable reform of our organization was implemented. We changed the way we work together. We changed the way the Central Team here relates and interacts with the ITER Domestic Agencies, and with our partners in the world of science and industry. In fact we changed our whole approach to the ITER Project.

    I have been travelling a lot these past months, meeting government leaders and stakeholders throughout the world. Because of the visible progress we have accomplished their mood has changed. They are not asking, "Why should we believe in ITER?" like they used to. They are hearing about real progress. Those who visit ITER are seeing the evidence. They are beginning to believe. And they are asking what they can do to support. This is a huge change: believe me, it is quite heart-warming....

    Few people, in today's world, have the privilege to work for a project the size and ambition of ITER. Whichever position you hold within the ITER Project, you are key to its success.
    As for me, nine months into the job and responsibility of Director-General, I feel pride—the pride of having you as colleagues and collaborators, and pride at the quality of your work and work ethics. Look around you, and you should also feel proud. The dream of three generations of fusion physicists is becoming reality.

    Let me thank you once again. And let me take this opportunity to wish you a beautiful 2016—a year of renewed challenges for sure, but with the deep satisfaction of overcoming them, which is what makes our lives exciting and meaningful.

    17 September 2015

    ITER Organization press release, 17 September 2015. "A multinational success"

    [The completion of ITER conductor procurement] is remarkable on several levels. Economically, we have injected EUR 610 million into industrial companies and laboratories around the world, which have now gained invaluable expertise that can be applied in other critical fields such as medical imaging, energy, and transportation. Technologically, we have used the latest materials science while pushing production to unprecedented levels. But perhaps the greatest achievement is reflected in the successful multinational collaboration on design attributes, production standards, quality assurance measures and testing protocols for a project of this technical complexity. We will continue to build on this success.

    See the full press release here.

    11 September 2015

    Speech for the Assembly Hall roof lifting event (excerpts)
     
    We are assembled here today as one family, proud and filled with emotion at the sight of this major step forward—just as if it was our own house that we were impatient to occupy. The installation of the roof segment of this giant Assembly Building, at whose feet we stand, is an important project milestone even if we know that it will be some time before we can truly move in and celebrate the opening of this important facility.
     
    In the name of the thousands of people engaged in this world-spanning research project—whether part of the ITER Organization Central Team, the seven Domestic Agencies of the ITER Members, or the hundreds of enterprises around the world that are manufacturing the components that will one day be assembled here—I would like to express our profound satisfaction, our gratitude and our warmest thanks for the work accomplished, work which was crowned, last night, by the installation of the roof segment.
     
    Visible from afar this building—which will hold the ITER banner high—is the symbol of all that has been accomplished over the past years. This week's lifting operation marks a crucial step forward in our common adventure to bring to all of humanity, within this century, a new source of energy that is clean, safe, abundant, competitive with other energy sources, and practically inexhaustible.

    Here, in this antechamber to the Tokamak Complex, the principal elements of the machine with be fitted out and preassembled. Without this building, there would be no assembly, and without assembly there would be no machine and no project. You have all done a remarkable job in the service of the future of all humanity, we hope, and the crucial question of sustainable energy.
     
    Read more about the event here.

    11 June 2015

    Before the end of this year [2015], I am expected to submit, along with all stakeholders, an updated, robust and reliable schedule to the ITER Council, and a cost and risk analysis. With renewed management and a streamlined organization, we are now ready to prepare for the assembly and commissioning phase, the step before fusion switches on. Further delays and costs are inevitable. ITER will meet these challenges if it has the unanimous political support of the seven members, on the basis of the long-term value of fusion technology.

    Nature 522, 149-151 (11 June 2015), "Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion"

    20 May 2015

    In the years ahead, the assembly of the ITER machine — with up to one million components — will be one of the most complex engineering endeavours ever undertaken. To meet the challenge, I am convinced that the ITER Organization and the seven ITER Domestic Agencies must act as an integrated team. I am progressively implementing the action plan I proposed to the ITER Council, which was unanimously approved by all partners. This action plan will result in some drastic changes with regard to the organization and the conduct of this project. But implementing new approaches and new procedures is inevitable if we want to succeed.

    ITER Organization 2014 Financial Statements

    14 May 2015

    The ITER Project is entering a new and decisive era. The time of "learning" is past, and we are now moving into the critical — and technically challenging — phases of intense manufacturing, delivery control, assembly and installation. As the new ITER Director-General since 5 March 2015, it is my responsibility to implement the changes necessary to create the conditions for the effective and integrated management of the ITER Project during these important years. Let me reiterate my conviction that the development of fusion energy is not negotiable. If the world wants to quit its dependence on burning fossil fuels and the ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions that they cause, we have to deliver fusion energy to the grid as soon as we can.

    ITER Organization 2014 Annual Report, May 2015

    25 March 2015

    The international research program at ITER aims to demonstrate—thanks to a unique experimental scientific facility under construction in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France—the optimum conditions for the industrial production of abundant, continuous, safe and competitively-priced electricity from the fusion of hydrogen atoms during the latter half of this century. The challenge is a considerable one, but the potential is such that seven Members (China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States) have joined their forces to achieve it. The ITER Members represent more than 85% of gross domestic product and more than 50% of the world's population.

    ITER Business Forum, 25 mars 2015

    5 March 2015

    The whole world needs innovative technologies to assure its long-term sustainable supply of energy. Magnetic confinement fusion is one of the most promising options. I am deeply honoured for the possibility of contributing to the large, international and ambitious research program that is ITER, which has innovation as its aim.

    Extraordinary meeting of the ITER Council, 5 March 2015

    View

    A selection of recent project highlights in images and sound ...

    25 April 2017

    Completing the "world's largest fusion experiment" ITER (CNBC)

    In labs worldwide, scientists are collaborating, designing, prototyping and producing over 10 million parts. However how long will it take to finish ITER — one of the world's "most ambitious energy projects"? CNBC investigates.

    25 April 2017

    ITER: Demonstrating the feasibility of fusion (CNBC)

    "To make fusion available on Earth you need the largest size plant... the size is absolutely critical," so no single country can afford to construct this equipment alone on a reasonable time scale, explains ITER's Director General Bernard Bigot, in an interview with CNBC's Steve Sedgwick.

    29 September 2016

    Timelapse from inside the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility

    Courtesy of the European Domestic Agency for ITER (Fusion for Energy), a 50-second time lapse from inside the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility where tooling qualification activities are underway and the first qualification double pancake has been wound. (September 2016) © F4E

    19 January 2017

    Is alluring but elusive fusion energy possible in our lifetime? (PBS NewsHour)

    In this nine-minute feature, PBS NewsHour (US) investigates a science that it describes as "alluring but elusive"—nuclear fusion. With the aid of Stephen O. Dean, President of Fusion Power Associates and lifelong fusion researcher and advocate, the documentary takes us on a tour of fusion research today, from the Californian startup Tri Alpha Energy to the "engineering test reactor" ITER. NewsHour Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports.

    © PBS NewsHour

    05 February 2017

    Status of ITER construction (January 2017, drone)

    With 1,500 workers active on the worksite, the status of the ITER scientific buildings and technical infrastructure changes daily. In this latest video filmed in January 2017, fly in, around, and over the structures that have been designed to house—or to support—the world's largest tokamak.

    © ITER Organization/EJF Riche

    13 September 2016

    Interview on Czech TV

    In this special edition of Hyde Park Civilizace (Czech TV CT24), the ITER Director-General is invited to the Institute of Plasma Physics, Czech Academy of Sciences—home to the COMPASS tokamak. It's the occasion for the program's host to ask: How does ITER work? Why does the fusion community need this massive experiment?  What role for smaller tokamaks? And when will ITER be fully operational?

    Answers in this 55-minute feature ...

    26 January 2017

    APAVE: Ensuring worker safety

    With a large number of workers on the ITER construction platform, a large number of contracting companies, and overlapping project sites ... safety must be a concern shared by all. A 25-person team from APAVE, Health and Safety Protection Coordinator for the European Domestic Agency, is on the worksite daily, carrying out inspections, identifying possible dangers and training workers. In this video, we follow APAVE prevention consultant Cyril Lefebvre on his daily rounds.

    04 May 2016

    Fusion reactor still in works

    In this three-minute video Voice of America reports on the status of the ITER Project, and talks with Director-General Bigot on recent progress, his participation in a recent US House of Representatives hearing on fusion energy science, and the commitment of the ITER Members to the new schedule and cost profile of ITER construction.

    29 June 2016

    A Slice of the Sun (BBC Horizons)

    "The proponents of fusion power have for years been promising us a plentiful and relatively safe form of new energy. Well here, at ITER in France, they are starting to make good on that promise."

    So begins the 30-minute documentary film on ITER and fusion that aired in June 2016 on BBC Horizons. Presenter Adam Shaw visits ITER in the south of France as well as labs around the world (Germany, US and Canada) to learn more about the "tantalizing possibility" of fusion and its chance at transforming the world's relationship with energy. 

    30 September 2015

    The Big Lift

    The roof structure of the ITER Assembly Hall (730 metric tons) is successfully lifted into place in a 14-hour operation on 10-11 September 2015. 

    12 November 2015

    ITER Assembly Part I: The world's largest puzzle

    After watching The world's largest puzzle: Assembly of the ITER Cryostat, we believe you'll never think of ITER in the same way again. In this six-minute video, you'll travel inside the cryostat as the ITER vacuum vessel is assembled and aligned. You'll see which components will be positioned first, and how. You'll stand at the bottom of the bioshield as the largest single component of the ITER machine, the base of the cryostat, descends from far above into position...

    Galleries

    About the Director

    On 5 March 2015, the ITER Council appointed Bernard Bigot, from France, Director-General of the ITER Organization.
     
    Bernard Bigot has been closely associated with ITER since France's bid to host the project in 2003. Following the ITER site decision in 2005, the signature of the ITER Agreement in 2006 and its ratification by all Members in 2007, Mr Bigot was delegated by the French government to act as High Representative for the implementation of ITER in France, a position that he has occupied since 2008.
     
    With the responsibility of coordinating the realization of ITER and ensuring the representation of France to the ITER Members and the ITER Organization, he has followed the project for some twenty years.
     
    In his long and distinguished career, Bernard Bigot has held senior positions in research, higher education and government. Prior to his appointment at ITER he completed two terms (2009-2012 and 2012-2015) as Chairman and CEO of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, CEA. This government-funded technological research organization—with ten research centres in France, a workforce of 16,000 and an annual budget of EUR 4.3 billion—is active in low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies, and health technologies.
     
    From 2003 to 2009 Bernard Bigot served as France's High commissioner for atomic energy, an independent scientific authority whose mission is to advise the French President and the French government on nuclear and renewable energy policy and in all the other scientific and technological domains where the CEA intervenes.
     
    On his long experience in the field of energy, he says: "I've always been concerned with energy issues. Energy is the key to mankind's social and economic development. Today, 80 percent of the energy consumed in the world comes from fossil fuels and we all know that this resource will not last forever. With fusion energy we have a potential resource for millions of years. Harnessing it is an opportunity we cannot miss."
     
    Bernard Bigot was trained at the Ecole normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud and holds an agrégation (highest-level teaching diploma in France) in physical science and a PhD in chemistry. He is a high-ranking university professor (classe exceptionnelle) at the Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, which he helped to establish and which he directed from 2000 to 2003. Author of over 70 publications in theoretical chemistry, Bernard Bigot was also in charge of research at the Ecole normale supérieure and Director of the Institut de recherche sur la catalyse, a CNRS laboratory specializing in catalysis research.
     
    In parallel to these academic responsibilities, he worked at the ministerial level in France as Head of the Scientific and Technical Mission (1993-1996), Director-General of Research and Technology (1996-1997), and Deputy Director for Research from 1998 to 2000.
     
    In 2002, Bernard Bigot was appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Research and New Technologies Minister and Assistant Private Secretary to the Minister for Youth, Education and Research. It was during his tenure in this office that France proposed a site in Cadarache (southern France) to host the ITER Project.
     
    Bernard Bigot is a Commandeur in the French Order of the Legion of Honour, a Commandeur in the Royal Swedish Order of the Polar Star, and an Officer the French Order of the National Merit. In October 2014 he received the Gold and Silver Star in the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun.

    Download the biography in pdf format.