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Contrary to widespread opinion, investment in fusion is quite low when compared to that of other emerging energy sources. According to Prof. Lopes-Cardozo "the spending on fusion will have to double every five years or so" if we want to bring fusion power to the grid before 2060.
There's good and there's bad in the public perception of what fusion is about. On the bright side, it is a "clean, safe, for all and forever" potential source of energy; on the not-so-bright one, it is "expensive and takes forever." Fusion energy, as the worn-out joke goes, will always be 50 years away.

But is fusion development really different from that of other energy sources? In other words, how does fusion fit into "the spectrum of energy technology developments"?

Niek Lopes-Cardozo, a veteran fusion physicist and a professor at Eindhoven (NL) University of Technology was at ITER this Thursday 13 September to provide answers to this question.

The many graphs and figures he presented to the Inside-ITER audience demonstrate that all energy sources—fission, solar, wind, etc.,—are governed by the same development model.

They all go through a phase of "exponential growth to materiality" during which no net energy is produced. This first phase can last 30 to 50 years during which the emerging energy source is a "niche market," helped along by public subsidies.

Whether the emerging source generates 10 MW or 100 GW of energy during that period doesn't make much of a difference: it is still a fraction of the global needs, it "doesn't save the world," and it doesn't pay back the energy invested to bring it to 'materiality'".

The second phase of any energy source development is characterized by a 30- to 50-year "linear growth" and this is when the new energy source becomes competitive.

Now where does fusion fit into that picture? A crucial factor in the transition from R&D (the present state of fusion) to "exponential growth to materiality" is the size of the capital investment. As demonstrated by Lopes-Cardozo's figures, and contrary to widespread opinion, investment in fusion is quite low when compared to that of other emerging energy sources.

Take wind, for instance: global investment is presently in the range of EUR 100 billion per year; it is EUR 50 billion per year for photovoltaic and EUR 20 billion for concentrated solar power.

Compared to these numbers, fusion, with a mere EUR 2 billion per year is the poor man of energy research. "We should not pretend that we can go exponential with the present budgets allocated to fusion," said Lopes-Cardozo.

Addressing "the heroes" of the "cornerstone project in fusion", he insisted on the importance of "staying on the roadmap" and of continuing to aim at bringing fusion power to the grid before 2060. This implies that "the spending on fusion will have to double every five years or so—as it does for other energy sources in development."

The ITER Organization manages its finances within the strict rules of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). A two-day meeting with IPSAS specialists was organized this week to review the standards updates and optimize the way they are implemented by ITER.
Whether you're doing your home finances or running the Finance & Budget Division of an international organization such as ITER, you basically act on the same principles: what comes in goes into the column on the left; what goes out goes into the column on the right ... and the total must be balanced.

Now of course there are differences. Finances at ITER are a rather complex affair. The Organization is accountable to authorities such as the ITER Council; its finances are audited twice a year by the Financial Audit Board; and are published through the annual ITER Organization Financial Statements.

Like most, if not all, public organizations or private companies, the ITER Organization manages its finances within strict rules. One set of rules is internal and is called the "Project Resource Management Regulations (PRMR)"; the other is a set of international standards, specific to public entities—the "International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)."

Upon its inception, the ITER Organization voluntarily adhered to the 32 standards of IPSAS. However, some very specific aspects of the project's organization, such as the nature of its contributions and assets or their valuations over time, were not fully anticipated by the experts who drafted the IPSAS.

In order to become more familiar with the IPSAS updates and their application to the ITER Organization's specific accounting issues, the Accounting, Treasury and Systems Section of the ITER Finance & Budget Division organized a training session early this week (10-11 September). Professor Frans Van Schaik, a partner at the auditing firm Deloitte Netherlands and a former member of the IPSAS Board (2006-2011), and Juliette Nahon, a Public Sector manager at Deloitte France, came to Cadarache to further develop the internal IPSAS knowledge and to share with the ITER Accounting staff their worldwide experience.

"The aim," explains Senior Accountant Lionel Rigaux, "was to review the principles, applicability and disclosures required by the IPSAS and to optimize the way we implement them in order to strengthen our ability to produce high-quality Financial Statements leading to the Auditor's certification."

More than 350 people participated in the second edition of the ITER Games held on Saturday 15 September in Vinon-sur-Verdon.
You think that scientists spend their weekends solving equations? And engineers leaning over the drawing table?

Wrong! This weekend, the second edition of the ITER Games—the friendly competition for all those working on the ITER Project and residents of Saint Paul-lez-Durance and Vinon-sur-Verdon—called them to the football field and the tennis courts and, for the first time, to the "rapids" of the Verdon River.

Click here to view the image gallery.
Click here to view the article in La Provence (in French).

From left to right: Dmitry Kravtsov (toroidal field quality resposible officer for Russia), Vladimir Tronza (toroidalf field responsible officer for Russia), Arnaud Devred (ITER's Superconductor Systems & Auxiliaries Section Leader), Hideki Kajitani (JAEA contact for toroidal field coils), Alessandro Bonito Oliva (toroidal field responsible officer for Europe), and Arnaud Foussat (ITER Toroidal Field Coil Section Leader).
The traditional international Conductor Meeting was held in Moscow on 10-13 September, 2012. The regular meeting was attended by representatives from the ITER Organization, experts from the ITER Domestic Agencies of Europe, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and USA, as well as specialists from the Domestic Agencies' suppliers.

Such meetings are particularly important since the ITER magnetic system, with conductors forming its core, is one of the ITER Tokamak's key elements. The manufactured conductors which are designed to withstand super high current in continuous mode have to meet the ITER Organization's strict requirements.

At the moment, 10 out of the 11 conductor Procurement Agreements are either well into the production phase or are completing the qualification/pre-production phase. This is particularly true for the toroidal field conductors, where 75 percent of the required niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) strands and one-third of the cable-in-conduit conductor unit lengths have been completed. Also, a technical solution has been found for the central solenoid conductors that are being implemented by ITER's Japanese partner.

"This is a clear indication that the ITER Project is moving ahead and is able to keep schedule," said meeting Chair Arnaud Devred, ITER Superconductor Systems and Auxiliaries Section Leader.

In Devred's opinion, "in spite of the difficulties of coordinating work with about 30 suppliers and six Domestic Agencies around the world, the ITER conductor community has always tried to work in a cooperative and synergetic manner, and the conductor meetings have always been a great opportunity for sharing experience and tackling difficult interface issues."

The Conductor Meeting is also an opportunity to showcase the work done in the Russian Federation and for the Domestic Agencies involved in coil procurement to visit the conductor production facility. Russia is responsible for the procurement of 22 kilometres of conductors, destined for toroidal field coils, and 11 kilometres destined for the poloidal field coils of the ITER magnet system. Toroidal field coils include more than 90 tonnes of superconducting Nb3Sn strands; poloidal field coils include 40 tonnes of niobium-titanium (Nb-Ti) strands.

Arnaud Devred praised the progress achieved by the Russian suppliers highly, saying that "The Russian Domestic Agency has now entered full toroidal field conductor and poloidal field cable production. It is a proactive partner, eager to play collectively and to assume its role within the ITER collaboration."

The next regular meeting is planned for March 2013 in Cadarache.

The discussions at the conference in Nancy confirmed that science communication is also experiencing many profound changes due, among other factors, to the development of electronic communication and social networks.
With 650 participants from 57 countries meeting last week in Nancy (France) for a conference on science communication, there is no doubt that this field of activity is rapidly expanding. Some argue that science communication has even become a new academic discipline with its own peer-reviewed journals, hundreds of PhD students, and dedicated events. For sure, it is a growing professional sector as most research organizations have established a public relations or press office.

Personally speaking, I don't believe science communication is (yet) a scientific discipline. I haven't seen any model able to predict or even describe the current situation and results. There are many prejudices and misconceptions circulating in this area, even within the scientific community. For example, communication specialists Matthew C. Nisbet and Dietram A. Scheufele have shown that much of what researchers believe about public and effective communication is wrong (The Scientist, 23 July 2012).

In my public lecture, I insisted on the concept of "mediascience," which is science as it appears in the media and which is therefore the public face of science. Mediascience is very different from science itself, nevertheless—although often criticized by the scientists—it is useful in that it allows scientific research to be contextualized and to reach the political sphere. I also identified three "ages" of science communication: information, communication (dialogue) and public participation in decisions about science and technology. In my opinion, we are still, to a large extent, in the first age.

The discussions in Nancy confirmed that science communication is also experiencing many profound changes due, among other factors, to the development of electronic communication and social networks. Expectations are still very high, which explains why all countries have undertaken, with some success, activities in science communication to promote public engagement on collective challenges.

However, there are major concerns about these activities as they are not often valued and recognized at the political level, or in the evaluation of scientific careers. Also, some recent scientific advances have not attracted the attention of the media and the public. Citizens feel « left aside » because they believe that scientific research and its applications are discussed and decided without involving them. Scientists, on the other hand, have the impression that they are increasingly ignored.

With Claudie Haigneré, a former French Research Minister, European "spationaut" (Russian Orbital Station MIR in 1996 and International Space Station in 2001) and currently President of Universcience, and Bernard Schiele, a Canadian professor who is widely acknowledged as one of the best experts in the world on these questions, I presented the "Nancy Declaration" to the press to publicly stress the importance of these activities and the need to support them at all levels. The Declaration called on "research stakeholders and decision makers to strengthen the links between science, technology and society, and value the role of citizens in science. Citizens are key actors in research and innovation because the distinction between scientists and citizens is no longer relevant, as they all contribute to society decisions."

This statement was echoed in Cadarache a few days ago by a French journalist, Sylvestre Huet, who writes for the newspaper Libération and the science blog {Science au carré}. In a presentation he gave at CEA Cadarache entitled "Information and nuclear: mission impossible?" he showed that the impression prevails that there is still a big gap between some political decisions and public concerns.

After a provocative statement that sharing scientific knowledge is an illusion (he meant advanced and complex scientific works), he highlighted many wrong ideas concerning nuclear science that are circulating among the public in the public sphere. The problem is not a question of information or communication but of trust in the public authorities and stakeholders. "This is not a specific problem relating to the nuclear industry," Huet added, "but we have seen, even last week, politicians taking a decision without waiting for the analysis of the competent experts. This undermines the credibility of scientists."

This is a strong reminder of the importance of transparency and openness in science communication, which is a key principle of our ITER public communication strategy.

This week, the 100th meeting of the Configuration Control Board was held ...
"No more PCRs! No more Project Change Requests!" This statement was heard many times during the recent meeting of the ITER Council Management Advisory Committee. Indeed, PCRs are not very welcome in ITER as they may be the source of additional costs. Therefore, "No further PCRs!" is a worthwhile goal.

Unfortunately as complex designs evolve, changes are unavoidable, making PCRs necessary. For Krystyna Marcinkiewicz, who coordinates the PCR process together with Thomas Tellier and Eloise Boyer, these "unloved children of ITER" are to be looked after with care.

The PCR procedure at ITER allows design changes to be formally introduced and approved. Proposals for modification—whether pertaining to technical scope, cost or schedule—are written up as PCRs and stored in one common database. Minor PCRs are dealt with by ITER's Design Integration Section, whereas the major PCRs are discussed at the bi-weekly Configuration Control Board (CCB) meeting. CCB has permanent members representing the senior management of all offices and departments at ITER, and the seven Domestic Agencies.

To make sure that only absolutely necessary change requests end up on the Board's table, the draft PCRs are screened by Chief Engineer Joo-Shik Bak before a number is attributed to them. Some drafts get turned down immediately, some are discussed but not accepted for further study, and some are dropped after thorough investigation.

The usual path, however, is for a standard PCR to be formulated, accepted for study, approved for implementation and implemented. One of the most ambitious and complex PCRs in ITER history was PCR-200, accepted for study three years ago in order to establish the current Project Baseline.

When in 2001 the ITER Final Design Report (FDR 2001) was agreed to, it constituted the basis for the selection of the ITER site and for negotiations concerning the sharing of packages and responsibilities for the in-kind procurement among the parties involved. Since 2001, the Baseline has changed in several significant ways and required its re-establishment. This happened through PCR-200: technical improvements to the design were introduced to comply with safety regulations and to reduce technical risks of not achieving the prescribed performance of ITER. PCR-200 has been subject to regular status reporting and review at CCB for over half a year and was finally approved on 4 May 2010 and endorsed by the Council afterwards.

The scope of PCRs is broad; their study and implementation can take years or hours. The fastest PCR was dealt with in 24 hours. The oldest, PCR still "alive" was first discussed in January 2007 when the design of major ITER systems was reviewed. It concerns the atmosphere and vent detritiation systems, the ultimate safety barrier in ITER to strictly limit tritium releases.

In order to improve reliability and performance, and to eventually meet all the safety requirements, the technology basis for the detritiation systems and its configuration had to be changed. A comprehensive R&D program is still ongoing in the Domestic Agencies, with very promising and successful results. Demonstration of the fully integrated detritiation system performance will ultimately be carried out, but by that time this PCR will be history.

At present, with one of the main schedule drivers being the construction of the ITER buildings, the relevant PCRs are under severe examination. Recently, for the main Tokamak Complex, a strict deadline was agreed to. As the implementation of PCRs will be dealt with on a floor-by-floor basis, any PCR regarding the roof of the Tokamak Complex will have to be closed by March 2013.

But before dealing with the future, this week it was time to pause for thought ... and to celebrate the 100th meeting of the Configuration Control Board with a glass of champagne.