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Of Interest

See archived entries

FEC 2020

E-conference opens, participation never higher

The 28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC) is off to an auspicious start. Open to the public for the first time thanks to the technical possibilities of an all-virtual format, the conference has attracted 3,400 attendees, including both full participants and observers.

FEC 2020 opens as a virtual conference on 10 May 2021 with the most participants recorded in 60 years of existence. (Click to view larger version...)
FEC 2020 opens as a virtual conference on 10 May 2021 with the most participants recorded in 60 years of existence.
Determined to view the all-virtual format as an opportunity instead of a constraint, the organizers of the conference—the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the ITER Organization—have organized an innovative week-long program that takes full advantage of a powerful web platform.

Participants can type questions live during the scientific sessions, and receive answers during the question and answer sessions that follow. A live chat function permits viewers to correspond in real time with authors of e-posters. And recordings of all sessions become accessible on the platform as early as the next day—a welcome feature since there are too many events planned for one participant to attend them all.

In addition to a weeklong program of scientific talks, many side events have been organized including:

  • A 30-minute virtual visit to the ITER worksite,
  • Technical tours of operating fusion devices,
  • Webinars,
  • A virtual exhibit hall,
  • Daily poster sessions,
  • And three IAEA-sponsored events: "Women in Fusion," "Celebrating 60 years of Fusion Energy Conferences," and IAEA Learning Resources in Fusion: Educating the Next Generation of Fusion Experts."
In his opening remarks on Monday 10 May, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi reminded the audience of 1,000 participants and 2,400 observers that the biennial conference has always been the pre-eminent international gathering of fusion experts. "The first Fusion Energy Conference was held in 1961. Since then, it has helped the field of nuclear fusion, becoming the main platform for discussing key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts directly relevant to the use of nuclear fusion as a future energy source," he stressed. "Over the last years, we have seen fusion advancing quicker than ever before, opening new job opportunities and inspiring career horizons."

Bernard Bigot, ITER Director-General, regretted that plans to host the 2020 conference in Nice, France, were derailed by the global pandemic. "But the pandemic has only delayed us in small ways. It has not stopped us in any way from pursuing our vision for fusion energy — as a future source of clean, safe, and virtually unlimited baseload power generation for all of humankind. In the same way, we can see that FEC 2020 has been delayed, but not prevented."

François Jacq, Chairman of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and High Representative in France for the ITER Project, emphasized the strong links between CEA and fusion and France's continued strong commitment to the ITER Project. Calling the Fusion Energy Conference a "major biennial milestone," he characterized it as a venue where "top international players in the field of fusion energy will have the floor to present and discuss the state-of-the-art research and innovation in all fusion-related applications."

A full report will be published in the next ITER Newsline.



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