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First Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days introduce fusion to the global energy debate

-Sabina Griffith

The round table discussion after the first session, led by BBC journalist Angela Lamont: LIAO Xiaohan, Deputy Director-General of the Chinese Minsitry of Science and Technology; Jérôme Paméla, Agence ITER France; Kijung Jung, Head of ITER Korea; (hidden by A. Lamont) Anil Kakodkar, Indian Atomic Energy Commission; Evgeny Velikhov, President of the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow and Chairman of the ITER Council; Edmund Synakowski, Director of Fusion Energy Sciences within the US Department of Energy; and ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima. (Click to view larger version...)
The round table discussion after the first session, led by BBC journalist Angela Lamont: LIAO Xiaohan, Deputy Director-General of the Chinese Minsitry of Science and Technology; Jérôme Paméla, Agence ITER France; Kijung Jung, Head of ITER Korea; (hidden by A. Lamont) Anil Kakodkar, Indian Atomic Energy Commission; Evgeny Velikhov, President of the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow and Chairman of the ITER Council; Edmund Synakowski, Director of Fusion Energy Sciences within the US Department of Energy; and ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima.
This week, from 23-25 November 2010, the First Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days took place in Monaco. The three-day conference, hosted by the Principality of Monaco and jointly organized by the ITER Organization, the Principality, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), offered an exceptional opportunity to explore and discuss what is at stake today in the energy world, and how fusion and ITER can help to meet the challenges of the coming decades.

The Principality of Monaco is supporting ITER in two of the most essential aspects of scientific life: the training of the next generation of physicists and engineers; and the sharing of knowledge and experience. In January 2008, a Partnership Arrangement was signed between the ITER Organization and the Principality of Monaco, providing a contribution from the Principality of EUR 5.5 million over a period of ten years. Thanks to this generous donation, the ITER Organization can finance five Postdoctoral Fellowships every two years and organize every other year in the Principality an international conference on fusion energy and ITER-related matters: the Monaco-ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED).

The audience in the Meridien Beach Plaza. (Click to view larger version...)
The audience in the Meridien Beach Plaza.
Opening the first edition of this new conference series, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II left no doubt as to what had led him to support the ITER project. "This ambitious project obviously caught my attention because, in the end, it should open the door to an abundant source of energy which is fairly distributed all over the planet," the Prince said. "This new technology will particularly make it possible to limit global warming currently threatening our Earth and unbalancing ecosystems. By demonstrating the feasibility of fusion energy in the long-term, ITER is meeting a priority close to my heart; that of producing clean, safe energy on a large-scale to meet humanity's needs."

On the first day of the three-day conference, representatives from the seven ITER Members looked at how fusion fits into the broader energy context. Korea for example, a nation that is currently importing 97% of its domestic energy needs, implemented in 2007 a "Fusion Energy Development Promotion Law" which illustrates the nation's strong wish to develop fusion energy and to finally realize it as an energy option. Based on this law, a "Roadmap for Fusion Energy Development" has been established. "For Korea," Kijung Jung, the Director of the Korean ITER Domestic Agency said, "fusion energy represents a great potential energy source, as a green energy with carbon-free, environmentally-friendly and limitless source for generating massive energy production certainly from the 2050s onward. That is why we absolutely need the success of ITER."

India, as one of the world's largest emerging economies, has an equal interest in investing in the development of fusion technology, as explained by Anil Kakodkar, Member of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission: "In order to provide a a decent quality of life to everyone, one should plan for at least 5000 kWh per capita electricity. For India alone, to reach 5000 kWh per capita, we need to add a 40% additional electricity generation capacity. In view of the serious climate change threat that now seems to be real, the "business as usual" approach clearly will not do. We do not know how close we are to the tipping point. However we need to act now to secure survival of our future generations. Development of fusion energy is one such action that we need to pursue as a priority."

Photo finish with the Prince: the Monaco Post-Doc Fellows at an evening reception grouped around His Serene Highness. (Click to view larger version...)
Photo finish with the Prince: the Monaco Post-Doc Fellows at an evening reception grouped around His Serene Highness.
Edmund Synakowski, Director of Fusion Energy Sciences within the US Department of Energy said on behalf of the US Government that "fusion represents a transformational science that can be part of our long-term energy and climate solutions, and can be critical in enhancing political stability. This international meeting in Monaco is an indication of just the sort of engagement we need — fusion requires all of our talents, all of our resources, because the stakes are so high."

Jérôme Paméla, Director of Agence ITER France, spoke finally on behalf of France, the ITER Host: "ITER is among the highest-profile endeavours in which the European Union is involved. ITER is a paradigm of what France, as an EU member state, wants to promote:  Europe involved in strategic, innovative projects aiming towards a better future, and also Europe as a key partner in international cooperations. The ITER project is exceptional in many ways," Paméla added. "Such a project does not come without a cost. The price for ITER must be put into perspective with its promise for long-term sustainability of worldwide energy supply and the cost of energy consumption." 

The second day of MIIFED focused on industry's involvement by giving a comprehensive update on the ITER licensing and construction status and the procurement strategies pursued by the seven Domestic Agencies. Day 3 was dedicated to a technical meeting jointly organized by ITER and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reviewing the current status of research on ITER-relevant materials and technologies.

"In our opinion the use of fusion energy is the 'must' if we want to be serious about embarking on sustainable development for future generations," Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization, summarized the need for developing fusion energy. "We firmly believe that harnessing fusion energy is the only way to reconcile the huge conflicting demands confronting humanity sooner or later."

All of the presentations given during the course of the conference will be made available on the conference website www.miifed2010.com in the coming days.



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