Energy supply and climate change are two words that rank at the top of the world political agenda. It is not only due to the rising oil and gas prices that society has begun to understand the seriousness of these problems. Next month, the leaders of the world's nations will come together on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, to discuss how to tackle these two issues. It is obvious now that new energy technologies must be developed on a global scale with the necessary impact as soon as possible. And fusion certainly is one of them. Speaking not only as Director of the ITER Organization I am convinced that fusion will play a key role in the world's energy mix.
As I am writing this, the ITER Council, the Governing Board of the ITER Organization with senior representatives from the seven ITER Members - China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States — has just finished its meeting in Aomori on the northern tip of Japan's main island Honshu. The ITER Council convened for the second time in the history of this young international organization to discuss the project's progress since the first Council meeting, the accession of Kazakhstan as an eighth Member state, and the implementation of a Test Blanket Module Program.
One of the key items on the agenda of this two-day meeting was certainly our approach to the new ITER Project Baseline based on the outcome of the extensive review of the 2001 ITER design. The Council approved the new Project Specification defining ITER's scientific goals and technical parameters and also the Overall Project Schedule with a target date of 2018 for First Plasma as reference. Regarding the Resource Estimates, the Council agreed to follow the recommendation of the Management Advisory Board (MAC) to set up an independent international group of experts, headed by Dr Frank Briscoe (EU), to assess the resource estimates as proposed by the ITER Organization.
All Members were satisfied with the progress made so far and encouraged us to maintain the momentum! This means a lot for us! I am certainly not exaggerating in saying that there was and still is a lot of pressure on all of us who have to take the necessary decisions following the comprehensive review of the ITER design. But we have to keep in mind that the outcome of this process will lead to a mature ITER design that will give us confidence of ITER achieving its goals - for the benefit of mankind. return to Newsline #37