We are now in the third year of our mission, and I would like to look back on what has been achieved since the signing of the ITER Agreement in Paris on 21 November 2006.
Thanks to the steady management of Agence ITER France, the levelling works for the 80-hectare tokamak platform will be completed within a matter of weeks. The next step will be the pre-excavation of the tokamak pit and the construction of the Poloidal Field Coil Winding facility. The commencement of building activities will truly be a new page in the ITER story.
Also, the ITER team has grown impressively over these last years — in Cadarache but also within the Domestic Agencies. It is the experience and enthusiasm of these people that is pumping life into the project and making its wheels turn. It has been a privilege to oversee such rapid development.
Finally the design of the ITER machine has been reviewed down to the last bolt, and although issues have arisen that will require our concerted attention, we are making good progress. In all, twelve procurement arrangements have been signed and the first manufacturing of strands for the ITER magnets has begun. I think we can be proud of what has been achieved so far.
Major challenges lie ahead, however. The most challenging task of the next months is to define the new project baseline, meaning that we have to define the scope and schedule of the project, and at the same time address the question of monetary resources. Our number one object is to control the cost of the project. Following the recommendation of the ITER Council, we are working closely with the Domestic Agencies on this question and have identified a list of potential cost-saving actions.
At the top of this list is procurement sharing optimization. In layman's terms this means reviewing the way in which manufacturing of the various parts of the ITER machine is distributed among the Members — an area that we are convinced holds much potential for cost containment. ITER is an international collaborative effort, and it is important to achieve equal distribution among all the Members both in terms of manufacturing and in terms of cost. However, through bilateral or trilateral agreements, or the creation of consortia, there is room for the process to be optimized.
Bilateral and trilateral agreements between the Domestic Agencies and the ITER Organization have already been established in the domains of cable and magnet production, and in diagnostics. These initiatives have shown us that it is possible - through a more global approach to optimization - to record real savings in terms of reduction of infrastructure and manpower, while all the while respecting existing R&D work and deadlines.
However unique the ITER Organization may be in its scientific goals and conception, we must not forget that we are a construction project that must stick to deadlines and budgets. We are determined to present solutions to the next ITER Council meeting in June this year that will result in cost management in the interest of all ITER stakeholders. return to Newsline #75