The year in pictures
In 2015, ITER looked to its past and celebrated three important events in its history: the 30th anniversary of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in Geneva, in November 1985, when the decision was taken to launch "the widest practical international cooperation" on fusion energy; the 10th anniversary of the unanimous vote in June 2005 in favour of the European site for ITER in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France; and the 5th anniversary of the beginning of construction on the ITER site.
In 2015, ITER also looked to its future by establishing a new way of working, based on a more efficient integration of all the project players—the ITER Organization Central Team, the seven Domestic Agencies, laboratories and institutions—under the stewardship of the new Director-General of the ITER Organization, Bernard Bigot, who took up the reins of the project in March. Eight months of hard work produced the detailed schedule that was submitted to the ITER Council in November—the ultimate Baseline that will lead to First Plasma.
Visible from afar, a spectacular feature was added to the ITER worksite: the steel structure of the Assembly Hall, soon to be clad with mirror-like stainless steel, now stands as a landmark in the Durance River valley.
Below ground level work on the Tokamak Complex progressed steadily throughout the year. Thick walls and sturdy columns have risen at the lowest basement level (B2) and working is starting on the next floor (B1).
In workshops and factories throughout the world, the ITER Members are engaged in manufacturing machine components and plant systems. A steady flow of deliveries is now reaching the ITER site.
The first Highly Exceptional Load reached ITER in January 2015, in the shape a 90-tonne electrical transformer procured by the US. Twelve months later, the first actual machine components—segments of the ITER cryostat procured by India—travelled the ITER Itinerary and are now waiting in the Cryostat Workshop to be welded together.
Thirty years after its inception and five since construction began in earnest, the ITER Project has acquired a tangible and spectacular reality. The "paper project" has turned into an industrial venture that strongly interacts with its economic environment; to this day, more than EUR 7 billion in contracts are ongoing in both construction and manufacturing.
January: Shipped 9,000 kilometres
The journey had begun in the port city of Ulsan, Korea, some 9,000 km from the ITER site. The load had travelled by container ship, barge, trailer, and there it was: a large transformer for ITER's electrical networks, 20 metres long, 3.35 metres wide, 5 metres high, and weighing close to 90 tonnes. It was the first in a long series of large and heavy components that will be delivered to ITER along the specially adapted ITER Itinerary.
February: Bull's eye on the Tokamak's location
In February, work is well underway on the first walls and pillars of the Tokamak Complex (part of basement level B2). Twelve metres under the level of the platform the location of the ITER Tokamak is easy to guess...
March: The passing of the torch
An academic, scientist and high-level civil servant who "has always been interested in the issue of energy," Bernard Bigot, from France (at left), 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.
April: Strengthening the decision-making process
One of the first decisions of the newly appointed Director-General was to establish an Executive Project Board (EPB) with managers of both the ITER Central Team and the Domestic Agencies. Empowered to take the needed decisions in due time for effective global project management, the EPB meets twice a month.
May: Standing on the fusion launch pad
On Saturday 30 May, as ITER's doors were opened wide to the public, some 800 people visited the site of the largest and certainly most ambitious science venture of all times. Standing on the floor of the Tokamak Complex was like standing on the launch pad of a Mars-bound space rocket. The launch pad may not yet be complete—and the rocket not yet assembled—but the feeling of awe was already present.
June: Project Teams for a project culture
In the newly established Project Teams, all of the people who contribute to a critical area of the project (for example buildings, or the vacuum vessel) are integrated into a cohesive decision-making body that is invested with the authority to take necessary technical decisions in the timeliest manner. These Teams transcend institutional affiliations, grouping members of the ITER Organization, Domestic Agencies and contractors. Pictured: some of the 65 members of the Buildings Infrastructure and Power Supplies (BIPS) Project Team, created in June.
July: From moonscape to hive of activity
In the five years since construction began in earnest on the ITER platform, the moonlike landscape has turned into a bustling environment of tall cranes, concrete, rebar, and steel columns rising as high as a 15-storey building. The number of workers on the construction increased from 400 in July to approximately 1,000 at the end of 2015, a number that will continue to rise as the pace of construction accelerates. More than EUR 4.4 billion worth of contracts signed for ITER construction are now taking on a substantive shape on the ITER platform...
August: The President's seal
In advance of the United Nations COP 21 climate conference, French President François Hollande had chosen to visit industrial company Air Liquide near Grenoble, France, where ITER's liquid helium plant is taking shape. At the end of his visit, in the presence of ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, the President signed the steel wall of "cold box" number two, leaving ITER with an exceptional souvenir...
September: Inching to the top
Centimetre by centimetre, 22 hydraulic jacks hoisted the huge 730-tonne roof structure of the Assembly Hall to the top of the pillars, 60 metres above ground. The operation, which lasted 14 hours, ended with a ceremony that was broadcast live to the ITER staff assembled in the Headquarters amphitheatre and by video feed to the ITER community throughout the world.
October: The ring fortress
In October, workers poured the first 200° segment of the bioshield, in an all-day operation that took 15 hours to complete. The 3.2-metre-thick ITER bioshield surrounds the machine to protect workers and the environment from the radiation generated by the fusion reaction. Realizing a "perfect pour" for such a massive and strategic structure was so important that it was practised in a specially constructed full-scale mockup on the platform.
November: Council commends ITER on progress
Exactly 30 years after the November 1985 Geneva Summit, which gave government-level impetus to the world's largest collaborative effort in fusion science, the governing body of the ITER Organization convened for the seventeenth time. The ITER Council recognized significant construction and manufacturing progress and approved a schedule and milestones covering the years 2016-17. The seventeenth ITER Council was the last meeting for Chair Robert Iotti, from the US, who will be succeeded by Won Namkung, from Korea.
December: In tune with the COP 21
ITER was present at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the COP21, held in Paris in early December, as well as at side events such as the "Energy for Tomorrow" conference hosted by the International New York Times. The ITER Project is perfectly in tune with the objectives of the COP21: developing energy solutions that will not further upset the planet's environmental balance.
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