IAEA General Conference
Fusion energy strongly advocated
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held its annual General Conference, with delegates representing more than 130 countries and many international organizations including ITER. The conference highlights a broad range of nuclear technologies and policies—from safeguards against weapons proliferation, to technical cooperation on nuclear and radioisotopic techniques benefiting agriculture, groundwater management, and medicine. This year, the global surge in fusion energy R&D was also in the spotlight.
As Director General Rafael Grossi mentioned in his opening statement, "Four years ago, IAEA activities on fusion were exclusively focused on science. Today, we have expanded our efforts, aiming also to accelerate development and deployment of fusion energy systems. We have come a long way." Grossi pointed to the upcoming IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in London (16-21 October), where ITER Organization Director-General Pietro Barabaschi and many other fusion project leaders will present status reports and the latest innovation in fusion-related physics and technology, and where the IAEA will launch a new publication, the World Fusion Outlook 2023.
The 67th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference was held from 25 to 29 September 2023 in Vienna, Austria. High-ranking officials and representatives from IAEA Member States considered a range of nuclear technologies and policies, including fusion.
Ministers and dignitaries from multiple countries voiced their support for fusion. US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm highlighted the "groundbreaking discoveries [that] are broadening the bounds of what's possible—of course, I'm talking about our recent achievement of fusion ignition, which brings us one step closer to harnessing the power of the Sun and the stars right here on Earth." The United Kingdom reiterated its plans to build a prototype fusion power plant by 2040. Euratom, describing ITER as the "worldwide fusion flagship," noted the project's ongoing progress amid challenges, and called for a "comprehensive and worldwide regulatory framework that enhances the development of fusion technology overall, addressing the many safety requirements and supporting the construction and operation of the future fusion power plants."
Two side events at the conference also focused on specific aspects of fusion progress. The first, organized by the United Kingdom, was centred on fusion regulation. The second, organized by Spain, reported on the construction of the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility—Demo Oriented NEutron Source (IFMIF-DONES) facility, which will be a cooperative scientific initiative for fusion materials, open to both the public and private sector research communities.
For more information about the weeklong General Conference, see this link.
return to the latest published articles