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A Word from the Director

ITER is a unique fusion science and technology research facility. It represents a key milestone for the future of energy: safe, economically sound, environmentally friendly. Fusion offers a massive and continuous power supply. It poses no concerns related to long-lived radioactive waste. And it is sustainable, with abundant natural fuel resources. It is a legacy we will be proud to leave to our children.

The ITER Project is on the move. The pace of work on the construction platform is increasing, in particular for the Tokamak Complex where the first major lift of machine assembly is scheduled for March 2020. Buildings, systems, and structures are emerging. Manufacturing is underway at hundreds of ITER Member locations worldwide. The first components have been installed. More are en route. Most major manufacturing contracts have been signed.

We have also transformed the ITER Organization to drive an integrated "project culture" extending across the ITER central team and the Domestic Agencies. Together, we have created a comprehensive, integrated schedule accounting for more than 150,000 separate activities and the one million components that will go into creating the ITER machine.

The project reached a significant milestone in November 2017: the completion of 50 percent of the total construction work scope through First Plasma.

"Total construction work scope," as used in our project performance metrics, is a start-to-finish term. It includes design, component manufacturing, building construction, shipping and delivery, assembly, and installation. First Plasma, scheduled for December 2025, will be the first stage of operation for ITER as a functional machine. It will be followed by a staged approach of additional assembly and operation in increasingly complex modes, culminating in Deuterium-Tritium Plasma in 2035.

This is no small achievement. It represents the collective contribution and commitment of ITER's seven members. 

I invite you to become an ITER partner. Explore the website. Learn more about the promise of fusion and ITER progress. ITER represents multinational collaboration on a grand scale: an essential feature for the future of our civilization.

Bernard Bigot, ITER Organization Director-General


Fusing the future—a power struggle (podcast interview)

BBC Babbage podcast, 5 June 2019

Director-General Bernard Bigot is one of the scientists interviewed during a 20-minute podcast on fusion produced by the BBC for its Babbage series.

Could the long-promised dream of nuclear fusion—to provide clean, limitless, carbon-free energy—finally be about to come true?

Listen here.

ITER marks 10 years of thermonuclear fusion in Provence

Provence Promotion, 15 November 2017

The program is at the midpoint of its journey to produce its first plasma in 2025.

Since 2007, the world's energy scientists have had their eyes trained on the Provence town of Saint-Paul Lez Durance. Ten years after the beginning of preparations to build an experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor, the ITER program is now at the midpoint of its journey to produce its first plasma in 2025. The 3,200 people who work on the site each day include many foreign engineers and scientists who are discovering the pleasures and quality of life in Provence.  Bernard Bigot, Director General of ITER Organization, looks back on the milestones of this experimental scientific undertaking, the only one of its kind in the world.

Why was Provence chosen to host the experimental nuclear fusion reactor?

The determination of national and local political leaders and the scientific and academic community, along with the fusion expertise and skills of CEA-Cadarache and the research conducted at Aix-Marseille Université, were decisive factors. The qualities of the site itself—neither too close nor too far from major cities, proximity to water and electricity resources, the quality of air and rail transport facilities—were also significant. After all, we have access to water from the Provence Canal and are connected to the European power grid. In 2002, the local governments in the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur region committed to providing €467 million in financial support to, among other things, create an international school in Manosque and build the ITER route along which the heaviest machinery is transported.

From 2007 to 2017: it has already been 10 years since the project started. Can you take stock and tell us about the outlook? What are the next milestones?

The international political consensus on fusion was formalized in 2006. A 35-year international agreement (2007-2042) was signed and, to date, 60% of the work has been completed to manufacture the components and erect the building that will house the Tokamak. The building will be completed in the first quarter of 2020. By the end of 2017, we will start assembling the components for the cryogenic plant. In 2019, we will begin assembly on the vacuum chamber components and vertical spools. The first plasma is expected in 2025. The project's overall cost will be €20 billion.

How many people work each day on the construction site?

A total of 3,200 people work on the ITER site each day: 2,000 work directly on the construction site and 1,200 are involved in implementing the international program. That includes 800 employees who work for the international ITER Organization and 400 highly skilled contractors. The European Union's joint undertaking for ITER (Fusion for Energy), which is responsible for building the structures, and the Engage consortium have 500 staff members on site.

Beyond that are the employees of the domestic agencies of the ITER members, or some 1,200 people who work in China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States to manage industrial contracts to manufacture the components for which they are responsible.  

Is it possible to measure the economic impact of ITER in Provence?

So far, the worksite has generated close to €6 billion in industrial (manufacturing, civil engineering) and service contracts in Europe. More than half of these contracts were awarded to French companies, and nearly three-fourths of those businesses are located in the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur region. Thus, several hundred million euro are injected into the local economy each year. ITER spends €300 million on payroll and local services (surveillance, accounting, etc.), in addition to its outlay on industrial contracts and subcontracting. Very hefty calls for bids to assemble the machine have been issued. These contracts will start in late 2018/early 2019 for a five- to six-year period.  More than 380 companies—SMBs and major corporations alike—are working to move the project forward. And 80% of them are French businesses...

The quality of life in our region is a real source of appeal to employees who come from all over the world to work here. Workers live in Aix, Manosque and Vinon and in the villages near the site. 

Is it reasonable to imagine that nuclear fusion will be part of the energy mix one day?

Nuclear fusion is a potential source of clean energy. It has zero impact on the climate or the environment and it is safe and provides massive, continuous power production. This makes it a major alternative to fossil fuels.  ITER does indeed aim to demonstrate that fusion can contribute to the worldwide energy supply. For the first time in history, we are going to be able to study "self-sustaining plasma" and the learnings are bound to be extremely valuable. We are also going to learn a lot about managing and maintaining a fusion facility. ITER is a decisive step forward in demonstrating the industrial feasibility and economic profitability of fusion energy.

Read the full article.

"ITER is a global response to a global challenge"

Foro Nuclear, 17 January 2018

Bernard Bigot explains during this detailed interview with Spain's Foro Nuclear that "fusion energy is clean and safe" and ITER represents the culmination of decades of international research towards the industrial exploitation of fusion energy. Fifty percent of the total construction work scope through First Plasma is now complete. He believes that "in the second half of this century we will have accumulated enough knowledge and experience to create a large fusion industry."

Could you please give us a summary of the ITER Project for readers that are not familiar with it?

ITER is a unique research project that aims to duplicate, here on Earth, the nuclear reactions that occur at the core of the Sun and Sun-like stars—the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium and energy. As you can imagine, it is a huge technological challenge. But it is the key step to accessing a new energy source, one that could bring a decisive contribution to meeting humankind's ever-growing needs in energy. ITER represents both the culmination of six decades of international research carried out on hundreds of fusion machines worldwide and a decisive and indispensable step towards the industrial exploitation of fusion energy.

ITER is also unique in that it brings together seven partners representing 35 nations, half the world's population and 85% of its industrial production. Never in history have so many nations worked together to achieve a common goal. ITER is a global response to a global challenge.

100,000 kilometres of superconducting strands, 150 million degrees centigrade, 23,000 tonnes of reactor weight. These are some of the impressive numbers for this experimental fusion reactor. Is everything in this project equally immense?

Contrary to a fission reactor, which can be miniaturized to fit into a submarine or a space probe, an energy-generating fusion machine is necessarily large. In order to achieve a "burning plasma" that produces much more energy than that required to heat it, something that has never been done before, we need to heat and confine a large volume of plasma (~ 850 cubic metres). Some of the "impressive numbers" that you mention derive from the plasma volume or, in the case of temperature, from the necessary conditions to achieve the fusion of hydrogen nuclei.

What are the advantages of this technology, and the challenges for the coming years?

Fusion energy is clean, intrinsically safe and based on virtually inexhaustible fuels. It is clean because it does not generate CO2 or greenhouse effect gases, nor does it produce long-life/high-activity nuclear waste. It is intrinsically safe because of the very nature of the fusion reaction and because there are never more than 2 grams of fusion fuels in suspension inside the machine at a given time. Besides, and this is one of the reasons why a burning plasma is so difficult to obtain and maintain, the fusion reactions simply stop when all parameters cease to be nominal. A Fukushima or Chernobyl-type accident is simply not possible in a fusion machine.

Now the fuels: fusion energy can theoretically be obtained through several combinations of light atoms. However, in the present state of our technology, it is the reaction between two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, that is the most accessible—although it is very difficult to realize. Deuterium poses no problem: it is easily extracted from water. With tritium, it's a bit more complicated. ITER will consume the few dozen kilograms that are available worldwide and experiment tritium production in situ, inside the machine. We will use the neutrons produced by the fusion reaction to produce tritium from lithium, a metal that is as abundant and widely distributed as lead. So our fuels are water and lithium and they are indeed virtually inexhaustible. There is enough deuterium in a half-filled bathtub, and enough lithium in a laptop battery to cover the electricity needs of an average European for 30 years ...

ITER is considered the world's most important research project. How do you handle your job as Director-General in a project of such large dimensions, and what are your priorities?

Becoming the ITER Director-General in March 2015 was not part of my professional plan. Following a long career in research, higher education and top government administration I had just completed two mandates as Administrator-General of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) when I was asked by the ITER Council (the organization's governing body) to fill in the job. I had been closely associated with ITER since France's bid to host the project in 2003 and in 2007 I was delegated by the French government to act as High Representative for the implementation of ITER in France. I had a good knowledge of ITER and of the challenges the project was facing.

I accepted the Council's offer at a crucial moment in ITER history, when the project was entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly. This new phase required a new organization—one tailored to meet the double challenge of delivering an installation that is both a research facility and an industrial facility. What we needed at that point and need even more today was integration. ITER is a complex structure, with a central team here in France and seven "domestic agencies" emanating from the seven ITER Members that are responsible for the in-kind procurement of machine components and installation systems. To achieve this integration, we needed a clear, centralized decision-making process under the authority of the Director-General. This being established and accepted by all, we could move on, as "One ITER," to promote and establish a project culture based on shared values of excellence, adherence to commitments, adherence to schedule and budget, and careful and effective use of public funds. And all the while making safety and quality our highest priority.

You lead a team composed of over 1,200 workers living in France but with multiple nationalities. What advice do you have, or what techniques do you use to lead teams with these characteristics?

The ITER staff hails from some 35 nationalities and needs to work as one entity, one large team bent on a common goal. How do we achieve harmony and efficiency? Through mutual respect and the understanding that each culture has its own work habits, traditions and "best practices." However at the end of the day, after well documented debates, decisions have to be taken and implemented by all. The global world we live in has not erased national particularisms. But instead of seeing this as a problem, we see it as an asset: we are building a project culture in a way that takes advantage of the diversity of these "best practices" to achieve an optimal result. And in case we forget these fundamentals, we can attend regular intercultural workshops and seminars... ITER is breaking new grounds and our experience is of great interest to intercultural professionals and students throughout the world.

 The interview continues on the Foro Nuclear website.

ITER chief: I won't live to see benefits of fusion, but I will help us get there

Science|Business, 15 March 2018

Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the world's biggest nuclear fusion project, tells Science|Business the perpetually out-of-reach energy source is finally in sight—so long as Trump does not scale back US involvement.

Read the full article.

"Interest in nuclear fusion has risen immensely"

Die Welt, 10 April 2017

The experimental reactor ITER is intended to solve mankind's energy problems. According to Director General Bernard Bigot more and more countries want to join. But they all share one concern. Die Welt's Daniel Wetzel reports.

Mr. Bigot, ITER is the largest project of the international community. But at the moment it seems as if nations are drifting apart. Will the ITER project survive Brexit and Trump?

I have received a provisional pledge from the British government that they want to stay on the ITER project. And they have also made a clear statement in the Brexit document. It is not at all compulsory that Brexit must also mean the complete withdrawal from Euratom, in which the European ITER partners are organized. And withdrawal from Euratom would not necessarily mean withdrawal from ITER. The British fusion organizations and scientists are eager to continue their contribution to ITER through collaboration with Fusion for Energy, the EU body managing Europe's contribution to ITER, and the EUROfusion research collaboration. All of these aspects will have to be negotiated.

Do you hear the same from the US?

I visited the US after the inauguration of President Trump, and I spoke with Congressmen, the Department of Energy and the State Department. There are clearly uncertainties. My expectation is that every nation defends its own interests, whatever they may be. And the US wants to know if fusion technology works. Even though they have plenty of gas, oil and space for windmills and solar fields. It is the country that burns the most energy resources in the world. The Americans know that their current way of meeting the energy demand cannot last forever.

The US president is not exactly a friend of international cooperation.

I hear that the US president has nothing against international cooperation as long as it is a good deal for the US.

And is that so? The experimental reactor is being built in the South of France. And Europe accounts for 45 percent of the project.

That's why it's in fact a very good deal for Mr Trump. The US is paying only nine percent of the costs, but has access to 100 percent of the research results. In addition, the US has conducted outstanding research into fusion technology and has already built its own plants. If it withdrew from the Iter project, the US would have to pursue this technology alone. Because none of today's ITER partners would be likely to cooperate with them.

You might get over losing a financial share of 9 percent. But could ITER do without the technical input of the US?  

It would be very difficult to do without the US expertise. The central solenoid, for example, the most powerful magnet in the world, consists of 1,000 tonnes of superconducting material. These are not static, but dynamic coils, in which the magnetic field constantly moves up and down. This requires a great deal of expertise, and the US companies are able to deliver it. The same applies to ITER's fuel recycling, that is, the renewal of used tritium and deuterium. The US is the best in doing that. It would take us very long to recover from a potential American retreat. That is why it is so important for me that each of the seven ITER Members, not just the USA, feel that we are now serious about delivering.

And, can you deliver? Within the research community, they still tell the old joke about the "fusion constant": According to this, the first fusion reactor is always ready "in 40 to 50 years from now" — no matter when you ask.

That was before I started here. I have committed myself to deliver the first plasma within the budget in 2025. The schedule is fixed. In April 2016, 14 independent experts with special experience in the management of major projects have certified that we are relying on the best and most realistic schedule and planning.

Before you took office, the US and other important partners were still considering stepping out of the project. The costs exploded, the work did not progress. What had happened?

My predecessor had not made it clear enough that Iter is not just a research project, but an industrial one. As a researcher you gather all opinions, try to please everyone. But here you have to make decisions. I therefore accepted the office only on the basis that the Director-General has full decision-making powers. The seven ITER Member States have understood that this is the only way forward. This was a turning point. I got full power of authority, full authority over the staff, and I got a special fund of one billion euros that gives me the freedom to make decisions quickly. It relieves me of the obligation to apply for new financial resources for every new problem with all seven members.

The interview of Director-General Bigot continues on

A dream of clean energy at a very high price

The New York Times, 27 March 2017

On the front page of the Science section, journalist Henry Fountain takes readers to the busy ITER construction site, where "workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge." In reviewing the ambitions, the status and the challenges of ITER, he speaks with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot, fusioneers and members of the US government.

Visit The New York Times for the full article.

New Head of ITER sweeps clean

Fusion in Europe, August 2015

An authentic comment from ITER's Director-General Bernard Bigot in the magazine Nature caused the fusion society to hold its breath. In the article "Pull together for fusion," published on 9 June 2015, Bernard Bigot listed several problems of mismanagement and miscommunication within the ITER Project and discussed how he intends to adjust the ITER management board proper to meet its needs. Fusion in Europe talks to Bernard Bigot about the details in the changed communication within the coming experiment on fusion, its delayed schedule and its influence on the European fusion roadmap. To the Director-General of the ITER Organization, EUROfusion's key facility, the Joint European Torus (JET) is of particular value for the mitigation of risks in future ITER plasmas.

Press interview on the results of the November 2015 ITER Council

The ITER Council, which meets twice a year, is responsible for the promotion and overall direction of the ITER Organization. In November 2015, the ITER Council convened for the seventeenth time in a session that focused on the long-term schedule for the project. At the conclusion of the meeting, Director-General Bernard Bigot shared the outcome with members of the press.

During the Council meeting on 18-19 November, you presented an updated long-term schedule. Can you tell us how this schedule was received?

The meeting went well. Representatives from all of the ITER Members were able to ask questions, express their concerns, and formulate requests. In the end, we reached an agreement. The Council noted the proposal I made for the best technically achievable schedule for the project, and now the governing body of the ITER Organization needs additional time to be able to endorse—or amend—the proposal with resources.

The updated long-term schedule, and associated budget and staffing resources, will now be the object of an independent review mandated by the Council. The Council has committed to completing its review by June 2016; this is good news. The ITER Project will have a new schedule and, what's more, a new Baseline.

Can you give us an idea of the key dates of the new schedule?

Until the Council completes its analysis, no definitive project schedule can be announced. Of course we could not expect immediate approval of our proposals related to schedule, budget, and staffing. A fully qualified panel of experts will be mandated to verify the consistency and reliability of the proposed schedule, and also to see if there are areas that can be improved or accelerated. ITER is funded through public investment and this level of scrutiny is absolutely to be expected.

While the Council is deliberating, the members have agreed to give us the resources to perform to the milestones for 2016 and 2017. This is the best result that I could expect. It allows us to really keep the momentum.

The Council clearly expressed its appreciation for the progress accomplished in eight months on site, within the management team, by the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies, and in factories. We have a more integrated way of working. My commitment is that the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies never be the blocking point, the limiting step, for suppliers to deliver.

You spoke of having the resources you need for the next two years. What milestones must be achieved?

These management, construction and manufacturing milestones were specifically expressed in the Record of Decisions of the Council meeting, for example: the award of the Construction Management-as-Agent contract in 2016, the completion of winding on the first central solenoid module, the beginning of work on the B1 basement level of the Tokamak Complex, and the entry into service of the 400 kV switchyard. If my memory serves me well, there are 20 high-level milestones in 2016 and 9 in 2017. The way forward is clear; each Domestic Agency has a list.

Milestones are a way of managing a project that is a large and as complex as ITER. Below the highest-level milestones are many different strata—approximately 250 activities in the Level 1 schedule, 1,200 in the Level 2 schedule, and more than 150,000 sequences in the Level 3 schedule—each one a precisely defined task with an assigned owner. ITER is an industrial project now.

Is it fair to say that you have short-term approval?

The main thing is not to lose time—all are agreed on this. We need a clear schedule and resources. We have the chance in two years to demonstrate reliability and to confirm and consolidate trust.

We were able to keep our commitment to the Council at the needed level of quality and in the limited amount of time we set for ourselves. To do so required the integrated scientific insight, engineering skills, and managerial competencies of every part of the organization. As a team, we performed a bottom-up assessment of the project. As a team, we found solutions to design challenges. As a team, we conducted an exhaustive and comprehensive integrated review. We have taken the first essential steps toward establishing a much-needed project culture. 

Can you tell us more about the independent review?

The ITER Council wants to be sure of the credibility and the reliability of the proposed schedule to First Plasma. Is everything consistent? Can any improvements be identified? The review will be an external vision, provided by a panel of fully qualified experts who are specialized in tokamaks or large construction projects. These experts will give advice based on experience.

Did the Council identify any technical issues needing more examination?

This is a research installation, but for now it has to be managed like a construction project. The planned operational program is in the hands of researchers. This is why we are establishing a network of Scientist Fellows on a goodwill basis—scientists who agree to focus their research on pending questions related to ITER operation. The 25- to 30-year-old researchers today will be in charge of operating the machine tomorrow! If they don't "take ownership" of it in a figurative sense before then, they will not be ready.

Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion

Nature, 09 June 2015

In June 2005, a group of industrial nations agreed on the location for the world's largest nuclear-fusion experiment: ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which they had decided to build jointly.
Today, roughly EUR 4 billion worth of construction contracts and EUR 3 billion in manufacturing contracts worldwide are underway and the first large components are being delivered to the site at St-Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.
Faced with slippage in the schedule—despite the best efforts of the more than 2,000 dedicated people working on ITER—in March 2015 the ITER Council moved to appoint Bernard Bigot, from France, to the top management position of the project.
Visit Nature for the full article.

An interview with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot

ITER Newsline, 8 March 2015 

An academic, scientist and high-level civil servant who "has always been concerned with energy issues," Bernard Bigot, from France, is the third Director-General to be named at the head of the ITER Organization. He succeeds physicist Osamu Motojima, who was appointed in 2010, and Ambassador Kaname Ikeda, who led the project from late 2005 to 2010.
As he takes up his duties, Mr Bigot reflects on the reasons why he accepted the nomination and draws a broad outline of the action plan that he will implement.
"We are now entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly," he says. "This new phase requires a new organization—one tailored to meet these two major challenges, because what we have to deliver now is both a research and an industrial facility."

Tough Questions for ITER's New Director General

IEEE Spectrum, March 2015

On 5 March, you presented an action plan, proposing changes to the management of ITER. What are the specific problems that you are addressing? 

What has plagued the ITER project so far is that we had no efficient decision process, caused by the fact that the ITER Organization and the seven domestic agencies did not operate as an integrated team.  We have to make decisions every day, take financial decisions; we need to learn to work together. The question is not to 'control,' but the capacity to work together.

What are the changes you proposed?

Bigot:  There are three important points. The first one is that the members, represented by the domestic agencies  they have established, must consider it fully legitimate that the Director General is fully empowered to take any decision with eventual implications to the main interest of the project. The domestic agencies and the Central Team, here in France, worked quite independently, and I strongly believe that they should work closely together and be placed on an equal footing, and that we need someone who can arbitrate.  

Secondly, we need to set up an organization in such a way that people feel associated with the decisions taken. We will set up an Executive Project Board that will be chaired by the DG, and in which the seven domestic agencies will be represented by their heads. In this way we can discuss issues and take decisions. Previously, representatives of the domestic agencies had also the rank of Deputy-Director General, confusing the technical role they had in the ITER Central Team and their responsibility in representing their own country. Now the Central team consists only of technical people, that way we simplify the process of diffusion and discussion.

My last point is that I will ask the ITER Council to provide the DG with a reserve fund that will be fully available to implement the technical decisions taken by the Executive Project Board. We are now in a new  phase, starting with the assembly of the test reactor, and we have to operate as a single organization, despite the fact that the domestic agencies will continue as legally separate organizations.

Past delays and mistrust of the technology have sometimes resulted in funding problems. Is outreach sufficient?

Bigot: The questions are legitimate, and that is why we have to communicate.  We have to answer these questions, and not only from the general public.  A large part of my duties will be to keep in close touch with the members, with political leaders, congressmen, in such a way that they feel fully associated, fully understanding how we work, and what the possibilities of this technology are.

We have to demonstrate that we can deliver. ITER is not just a nice research project, it has to fulfill the expectation that in the long term fusion will be a reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly way to supply energy.

What makes you optimistic that the ITER project will succeed in demonstrating this?

Bigot:  I have now visited several of the members, and I realize there are many issues to be addressed. So far we are moving in the right direction. The more we advance with the project, the more we see what the difficulties are and we address them, and we find solutions. For example, a few years ago we did not master the technology for producing superconducting coils required for the large magnets. We are now proceeding with the manufacture, and we're satisfied with the results.   

And it is encouraging that some members are considering the next step, after ITER. China, with its large population, expects that fusion technology will be able to provide a share of their energy supplies some time this century. We view their own plans for fusion energy as an endorsement of ITER.  

Read the full interview in the IEEE Spectrum.

21 Nov 2019

25th ITER Council: All efforts converging toward the start of machine assembly

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20 Jun 2019

24th ITER Council welcomes sustained project progress with preparation for transition to Machine Assembly

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28 Jan 2019

ITER Council reappoints Dr Bernard Bigot to second term as Director-General

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15 Nov 2018

23rd ITER Council appreciates continuous project progress

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21 Jun 2018

22nd ITER Council affirms project progress to achieve First Plasma in 2025

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06 Dec 2017

The Director-General's Statement on ITER Progress

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06 Dec 2017

World's most complex machine is 50 percent completed

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16 Nov 2017

21st ITER Council affirms steady, measurable project progress

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04 Sep 2017

US scientist Tim Luce appointed Head of ITER Science & Operations Department

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22 Jun 2017

20th ITER Council meeting recognizes strong project progress in line with the 2016 baseline

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13 Jun 2017

ITER signs Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan

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17 Nov 2016

ITER Council endorses updated project schedule to Deuterium-Tritium Operation

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30 Sep 2016

ITER signs Cooperation Agreement with Australia

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28 Jun 2016

ITER awards mega contract for assembly of Tokamak and support plant

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16 Jun 2016

ITER Council endorses updated schedule focused on First Plasma

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27 Apr 2016

ITER Council Review Group provides external validation of project progress

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12 Jan 2016

Won Namkung takes helm of the ITER Council

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22 Dec 2015

First machine components reach ITER

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19 Nov 2015

ITER Project progressing well despite delays

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09 Nov 2015

Gyung-Su Lee appointed Deputy-Director General of the ITER Organization

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17 Sep 2015

A multinational success: ITER superconductor production nears completion

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18 Jun 2015

Visible progress in ITER, but still important issues to be resolved

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04 May 2015

Eisuke Tada appointed Deputy-Director General of the ITER Organization

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05 Mar 2015

Bernard Bigot is the new ITER Director-General

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    There's life on Planet ITER

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    ITER Organization 2018 Annual Report

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    ITER Progress in Pictures 2018, Japan Edition

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    ITER, the way to new energy

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    ITER Progress in Pictures 2018

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    ITER Organization 2017 Annual Report

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    ITER Progress in Pictures, December 2017

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    ITER Organization 2016 Annual Report

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    ITER Progress in Pictures, November 2016

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    ITER Organization 2015 Annual Report

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    ITER Progress in Pictures, November 2015

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    11 JUNE 2018

    Statement for the inauguration of the SPIDER test bench
    Neutral Beam Test Facility, Padua, Italy

    It is a real pleasure and a great honour to be here today and to participate in the final countdown for the operation of SPIDER, the most powerful negative ion beam source ever built.
    Where else but here in Padua would we want to celebrate such a technological breakthrough? Padua, the workshop and home to figures like Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei; intellectual giants who—I believe we can all agree—changed the cultural and scientific history of humanity.

    Fusion energy, too, has the potential to change the course of mankind, and ITER will pave the way as the next step in the fusion roadmap for all ITER Members. No doubt we still have to overcome many challenges to reproduce the energy that powers the sun and the stars down here on Earth. But we are getting closer...

    One of the big challenges for Tokamak fusion is to create the temperature that will force the hydrogen atoms to fuse inside the ITER vacuum chamber; incredible temperatures—150 million degrees, 10 times hotter than the core of the sun—are necessary for this to happen. We rely on a set of three sophisticated heating systems to reach and keep this temperature, among which the neutral beam injectors are the most powerful.
    Neutral beam technology is not new, as neutral beams are routinely used for plasma heating in fusion devices. But the size of ITER calls for much thicker particle beams and much faster individual particles in order to reach deep into the core of the plasma. To achieve this, we decided to go for a new technology breakthrough, and to use negative instead of positive ion beams. SPIDER—the beautiful creature behind me that will soon come to life—will help us to develop this new technology. 
    But as impressive SPIDER may be, it is much more than scientific and technological ingenuity. It is also an example of exceptional international collaboration: Italy and Consorzio RFX have provided the facility and a large contribution towards the personnel. Fusion for Energy, the European Domestic Agency organization that is in charge of the European contribution to ITER, has financed most of the components building on the expertise of European industry and research organizations. ITER India, managing India's contribution to ITER, has also provided equipment. And the ITER Organization has led the design and oversight. And when we operate the ITER machine, we will rely on the expertise, knowledge and know-how generated right here in Padua.
    I sincerely congratulate all of you assembled here on this important occasion. It is only thanks to your professionalism and commitment that we can celebrate this important milestone today, which brings ITER another step closer to its important goal. Remember, we are working for the benefit of all mankind.
    And now it is time for us to turn on the machine.
    Thank you.

    6 MARCH 2018

    Statement before the US House of Representatives
    (Subcommittee on Energy Committee on Science, Space and Technology)

    This precise day marks exactly three years since I accepted the position of Director-General of the ITER Organization. In March 2015, as this Committee well knows, the ITER project was in urgent need of reform. The inherent complexities built into the ITER Agreement were widely viewed as liabilities. Much of the focus was on whether it was possible to effectively manage such a complex international construction project.
    By April 2016, when I last addressed this Committee, we had begun to answer this question affirmatively. At that time our organizational reforms had been underway for one year, based on an Action Plan designed to accomplish several specific objectives: effective, efficient technological decision-making; profound integration of the work of the ITER Organization with that of the Domestic Agencies; a comprehensive technological understanding of all aspects of the ITER machine; finalization of design of ITER's critical path components; an updated, challenging, reliable schedule; and above all, a project culture capable of reliably delivering on our commitments while maintaining the highest levels of safety and quality.
    The Committee at that time offered its congratulations for our efforts to put the project back on track, and we were very grateful for your expressions of support. One month after that hearing, we were also pleased to receive the report of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, which was cautiously optimistic about the ITER reforms. However, it was also clear at that stage that some scepticism remained as to whether we would be able to fully carry out these reforms, and even more, whether we would be able to sustain our commitments to deliver the project in accordance with the demands of the new ITER schedule and resource estimates.
    Now, almost 2 years later, I am pleased to report that we have, in fact, remained on track for success according to the agreed schedule and cost.

    Click here for the full text of Director-General Bigot's written testimony to the Committee. 

    6 DECEMBER 2017

    Statement on ITER Progress

    The ITER Project reached a significant milestone in November 2017: the completion of 50 percent of the total construction work scope through First Plasma.  

    "Total construction work scope," as used in our project performance metrics, is a start-to-finish term. It includes design, component manufacturing, building construction, shipping and delivery, assembly, and installation. First Plasma, scheduled for December 2025, will be the first stage of operation for ITER as a functional machine. It will be followed by a staged approach of additional assembly and operation in increasingly complex modes, culminating in Deuterium-Tritium Plasma in 2035.

    Globally, these indicators show that the ITER Project is progressing steadily.

    To read the Director-General's full statement, see this page.

    4 DECEMBER 2017

    European Commission ITER Industry Day
    In a one-day event organized by the European Commission on 4 December 2017—the ITER Industry Day—Director-General Bernard Bigot presented the latest news on the project to business representatives, policy makers, scientists, civil society organizations, and the media. ITER construction is accelerating; contracts worth more than EUR 8.5 billion have been signed for the construction of buildings and the manufacturing of components through Domestic Agencies in the seven Members; and machine assembly begins next year.

    Frédérique Vidal, French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, delivered a strong message of support at the event that can be downloaded here in French or English.
    EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, highlighted the benefits of ITER and fusion for the economy and for society at large in his opening address here.

    15 NOVEMBER 2017

    10-year celebration of the ITER Organization (excerpts)

    The story of ITER—the quest by 35 nations to build a Tokamak capable of demonstrating and studying a burning plasma—is a story that goes back many decades.

    The story of the ITER Organization is much shorter—10 years—although for some of you it probably already feels like a life-time. But today, when we consider the photos and achievements of the past 10 years, I do believe we must start by realizing that we are—in effect—standing on the shoulders of many others who have laid the foundation in decades past.

    So what is ITER?

    If you go out on the worksite today, with construction very active, you might think that ITER is a project made of concrete, rebar, and scaffolding—intense, focused construction. It is clearly a part of ITER that we are proud of. But it is not the only one, even on the ITER site.

    If you visit the Domestic Agencies—the manufacturing facilities, the laboratories, the many suppliers, you might think that ITER is made up of magnets, electrical cables, cryogenic piping, gyrotrons, and massive pieces of precisely shaped metal—intense, applied engineering. This is also part of ITER that we are equally proud of.

    But as you will see today, the story of ITER is much more than its physical components. All of us here are part of a human story—a story of human struggle: sometimes challenging, sometimes discouraging, sometimes inspirational, but always moving forward.

    This is where we find the true context for the ITER Organization of the past 10 years—the human context. Some of you today have been IO employees from almost Day One. Others, including myself, were part of ITER in other ways, but joined the ITER Organization only a few years ago. Some of you have arrived recently, to support our transition toward assembly and installation phase.

    To all of you gathered here or listening today, I would like to say—with my whole heart—thank you. Thank you for continuing your commitment over the past 10 years, through hard times and good times, finding a way through every challenge. I am proud to be your colleague, and your Director-General.

    Thank you very much also to the ITER Members and the successive generations of the delegations to the ITER Council, and in particular to the members who have participated from the first ITER Council meeting. Your support and guidance are highly appreciated. 

    Today we are witnessing the full pace of progress in construction and manufacturing. It is not easy. We know we have still a long way to go. But we are on track for success. Today we celebrate the past 10 years, and pledge our commitment to an even better future. Congratulations on this milestone of achievement!

    10 JUNE 2017

    Astana EXPO 2017, Opening statement

    My warmest welcome to all of you, on behalf of the ITER Project and the representatives of the ITER Domestic Agencies from all around the world. We are deeply honoured to have you present, in this beautiful capital city of Astana, for the Inauguration of the ITER Exhibit at World EXPO-2017.
    The history of the World EXPO, sometimes called the World Fair, is a history of showcasing remarkable scientific discovery and engineering innovation. One of the most well-known symbols of France, the Eiffel Tower, was built for the 1889 World Fair in Paris, and was considered an absolute engineering marvel.
    Four years later, for the World EXPO in Chicago, the United States engineers asked themselves, "How can we build something better than the Eiffel Tower?" They decided, "We will also build a very tall structure, but in the form of a moving circle." Their result was the Ferris Wheel.
    This year, as we have seen, our gracious hosts, the Republic of Kazakhstan, have built the largest spherical building in the world: the 80-metre diameter Kazakh Pavilion. Thus the history of the World EXPO is one of leading the way to the future.
    This year as you know the EXPO theme is "Future Energy." I cannot imagine any science and engineering project with a greater potential impact on the future than harnessing the power of the sun and the stars: nuclear fusion, a safe and environmentally friendly source of energy with enough fuel here on earth to serve humankind for millions of years.
    The effort for humans to harness fusion has been ongoing for more than six decades. But what is unique about this field of science and engineering is that nuclear fusion, from its earliest roots, has been collaborative. Unlike the competitive engineering of the historical EXPOs, the project you are seeing today represents the collective resources—financial, technological, and intellectual—of 35 countries working together.

    The Eiffel Tower was named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company built it. The Ferris Wheel was named after George Ferris, the engineer who invented it.
    "ITER" is named for the future that it promises. In Latin, "ITER" means "the way": the way to a nearly unlimited, safe, clean, sustainable and economically competitive energy. A dream for humanity.
    I encourage you to take the time, with our ITER Exhibit, to understand the science, the complexity of the technology challenges, and also the complexity of the partnerships that are designing and building parts of this fantastic machine—the ITER Tokamak¬—in companies and universities and laboratories around the world.
    I also urge you to visit the Chinese exhibit, where they also showcase ITER and fusion, and have created a 4D cinema and an ITER model that is both educational and visually spectacular.
    Some of you may have seen the model of the KTM on display, the Kazakhstan Tokamak for Materials studies. Tomorrow, in a ceremony in the Media Centre, the National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan will sign a Cooperation Agreement with ITER, thus becoming our newest collaborator.
    I must also mention, on behalf of the ITER Project, our gratitude to our host country, France. The ITER Tokamak is being built in the beautiful region of Provence, in the south of France; and so the Government of France offered us this opportunity to place an international ITER exhibit in the French Pavilion. We are deeply grateful.
    To put it simply: the future of fusion—like the future of science¬—is partnership.

    Therefore, this afternoon let me assure you that we are grateful to have so many of you as our partners. I offer my thanks to the Government of France, my warmest wishes to our gracious Kazakh hosts for a beautiful and memorable World EXPO-2017, and my most sincere welcome to all of you and your guests at this inauguration of the ITER exhibit.

    5 SEPTEMBER 2016

    Welcome address to the first group of ITER Scientist Fellows (excerpts)

    It's a great pleasure for me to be able to address this first Workshop of the ITER Scientist Fellows today. Now that we have a challenging, but reliable, best technically achievable schedule up to First Plasma by December 2025, and a subsequent staged approach to D-T commissioning and full fusion power by 2035 which allows the scientists to perform their first plasma physics experiments by 2028, I feel strongly that the scientific community must prepare itself to play its expected leading role in ITER exploitation and that these preparations should begin immediately.
    Even before taking up my appointment as ITER Director-General in March 2015, the necessity of implementing the preparations for ITER operation was a central part of my vision for the next phase of the project. Establishing an organizational structure within the ITER Project to develop the necessary activities is certainly a prerequisite, and Science & Operations Department has the charge to pursue this as a central element of its mission.
    However, to make a success of ITER exploitation, it is essential that the scientific community sees ITER as "its experiment" and starts to make ITER's research program its own research program. It is for this reason that I proposed launching the ITER Scientist Fellow Network.
    For me it is self-evident that, to take full advantage of ITER's research possibilities, the scientific community needs to start thinking now about the key questions relating to ITER's scientific exploitation: what are the critical physics issues that we need to resolve to ensure that ITER can be operated successfully? What preparations should we be putting in place to ensure that we have the necessary scientific tools to fully exploit ITER's experimental results? How are we going to approach the development of the ITER experimental program and how are we going to plot a path from First Plasma to fusion power production on a well-thought priority sequence? What new science might come from studying burning plasmas in ITER?
    I am expecting that quite a few of you sitting here today are going to play an active, possibly a leading, role in ITER exploitation when the construction is complete. The ITER Scientist Fellows' Network is intended to provide you with the opportunity to start playing an active role now and, in time, to be a member of the community which takes ownership of the ITER scientific programme. I see benefits to ITER and to you, the ITER Scientist Fellows, through your involvement in this Network. Indeed, it's a unique opportunity for "cross-fertilization": you will play a key role in the development of the ITER scientific program via contributions to the resolution of outstanding research issues and, in return, you can benefit from close ties to the ITER team and access to a scientific and technological environment that can enrich your work back home.

    16 June 2016

    Speech for the arrival of the first major components from China (excerpts)

    [...] Thanks to the efforts of many of you, on Friday 10 June at 3:30 a.m. the first of three transformers belonging to the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN) arrived on ITER site. The PPEN is a key component for Tokamak operation since it is the network that will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.

    Achieved by the Chinese Domestic Agency, the milestone also represents the arrival of the first major component from China.

    Let me present a few facts on ITER's pulsed power electrical network.

    * ITER will have two separate electrical networks to distribute power through the installation: the steady state electrical network (SSEN) that will bring down the high-tension grid voltage from 400 kV to the standard 20 kV of industrial facilities; and the pulsed power electrical network (PPEN) that will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.
    * The PPEN network is not at all standard; indeed, it is specific to fusion machines, which need large inputs of electrical power for brief periods ("peak power"). Peak power is as remarkable as any of the project's other distinctive features—when ITER will reach the Deuterium-Tritium Operation phase, the instantaneous power consumption during pulses will be as large as 450 MW, about half the output of a large conventional power plant.
    * The PPEN units are massive structures that will weigh approximately 460 tonnes each when completely filled with insulating oil and fitted out with the proper bushings.

    A few words now about the significance of this milestone.

    After designing many complex pieces of equipment (often beyond the frontier of the best-known technology worldwide at the start the design phase) ... after the qualification of the design and manufacturing processes ... after fabrication by highly skilled engineers, technicians and workers ... and, finally, after the shipment and transport ... comes the time for reception here on site by the ITER Organization.

    It is all of these efforts and achievements together—performed in a timely manner to the highest standards of quality, safety and performance—that we celebrate today with our Chinese partners, Agence ITER France, the transport company DAHER, the European Domestic Agency and ITER Council Members. I would like this morning to thank all who have contributed and to share my sincere appreciation for your accomplishment. It shows the way for the work that remains to be accomplished in the years to come.

    In the context of the Eighteenth ITER Council's approval of the updated schedule to First Plasma, this milestone is particularly important. Now, each one of us has to feel ownership and personal accountability for this new schedule. I have no doubt that if we work in the same spirit and in a tightly integrated way—cultivating professional excellence, mutual trust and team spirit with the same dedication and determination—that we will succeed, despite the extraordinary size of the challenges, to deliver the ITER research facility to the fusion scientific community on scope, on time and on budget.

    20 April 2016

    Statement before the US House of Representatives
    (Subcommittee on Energy Committee on Science, Space and Technology)

    Today we are at a critical time in the history of the ITER Project and the ITER Organization. Since I accepted the position of Director-General, 13 months ago, I do believe we have been moving at a rapid pace in accordance with the ITER Members' expectation. For the project to move forward, it was essential for us to accomplish two objectives at once: first, to execute sweeping organizational reform, fully addressing and correcting the problems identified in the 2013 Management Assessment report; and second, while in the midst of this reform, to shift from design and early construction activities to full-paced construction and manufacturing, making tangible progress to demonstrate we had the capacity, with reliability, to actually build the machine.

    I am pleased to say, looking back, that we have done both. Today is no time for relaxation or self-congratulation, but it is worth reflecting on how we have gotten ITER back on track, because we must understand how to sustain this pace, keep our momentum, while continuing to improve in several specific areas.  [...]
    Fundamentally, I hope to answer three questions in this hearing that I believe are of relevance to you, as responsible leaders and decision-makers: Why should the United States and other ITER members have confidence that the ITER Project is back on track? Why should we consider ITER and its global partnership a sound investment for its Members, and for the US in particular? Why should there be a greater global sense of urgency about the importance of fusion to our future?

    Click here for the full text of Director-General Bigot's written testimony to the Committee.

    21 January 2016

    New Year's address to staff (excerpts)
    It is not an easy task to gather the whole—or at least a large part—of the ITER staff outside our Headquarters Building. So let me first thank you for having accepted my invitation to attend this meeting in the Cryostat Workshop in order to celebrate the new year. Let me also thank our host, India, to whom this building belongs, and our industrial partner, Larsen & Toubro, who has kindly helped us to organize this all-staff meeting.

    Happy new year to you and your families. Happy new year to ITER, too, as we enter this highly critical year for the project, with the expectation of a new baseline approved by all ITER Members not later than June 2016 after a successful Independent Review.... 

    I am told that the last time staff assembled on the worksite was September 2011. At that time, only one construction element stood on the platform—the near-finished Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility. There are now close to a dozen buildings at different stages of completion. It illustrates the progress the project has made in meantime.

    Today, a little more than four years later, we are standing in a building that is a perfect symbol of the international dimension of ITER. The Cryostat Workshop sits on a piece of land that was handed by France to the international ITER Organization, who handed it in turn to India. Men and women from several of the 35 ITER nations will soon work here to assemble and weld the ITER cryostat, the largest vacuum vessel ever built out of stainless steel and a key component of the ITER machine.

    Another potent symbol of our common project sits just behind me. These large pieces of steel are the first tangible parts of the ITER Tokamak. They were manufactured in India by Larsen & Toubro and delivered to the ITER site in mid-December. Once welded, they will form Tier 1 of the cryostat base.

    Look how massive they are, and consider they represent only one-eighth of the total mass of the 3,850-ton ITER cryostat. Indeed, we are building a big machine....

    For ITER and for all of us, the year 2015 marked a turning point. A deep and indispensable reform of our organization was implemented. We changed the way we work together. We changed the way the Central Team here relates and interacts with the ITER Domestic Agencies, and with our partners in the world of science and industry. In fact we changed our whole approach to the ITER Project.

    I have been travelling a lot these past months, meeting government leaders and stakeholders throughout the world. Because of the visible progress we have accomplished their mood has changed. They are not asking, "Why should we believe in ITER?" like they used to. They are hearing about real progress. Those who visit ITER are seeing the evidence. They are beginning to believe. And they are asking what they can do to support. This is a huge change: believe me, it is quite heart-warming....

    Few people, in today's world, have the privilege to work for a project the size and ambition of ITER. Whichever position you hold within the ITER Project, you are key to its success.
    As for me, nine months into the job and responsibility of Director-General, I feel pride—the pride of having you as colleagues and collaborators, and pride at the quality of your work and work ethics. Look around you, and you should also feel proud. The dream of three generations of fusion physicists is becoming reality.

    Let me thank you once again. And let me take this opportunity to wish you a beautiful 2016—a year of renewed challenges for sure, but with the deep satisfaction of overcoming them, which is what makes our lives exciting and meaningful.

    17 September 2015

    ITER Organization press release, 17 September 2015. "A multinational success"

    [The completion of ITER conductor procurement] is remarkable on several levels. Economically, we have injected EUR 610 million into industrial companies and laboratories around the world, which have now gained invaluable expertise that can be applied in other critical fields such as medical imaging, energy, and transportation. Technologically, we have used the latest materials science while pushing production to unprecedented levels. But perhaps the greatest achievement is reflected in the successful multinational collaboration on design attributes, production standards, quality assurance measures and testing protocols for a project of this technical complexity. We will continue to build on this success.

    See the full press release here.

    11 September 2015

    Speech for the Assembly Hall roof lifting event (excerpts)
    We are assembled here today as one family, proud and filled with emotion at the sight of this major step forward—just as if it was our own house that we were impatient to occupy. The installation of the roof segment of this giant Assembly Building, at whose feet we stand, is an important project milestone even if we know that it will be some time before we can truly move in and celebrate the opening of this important facility.
    In the name of the thousands of people engaged in this world-spanning research project—whether part of the ITER Organization Central Team, the seven Domestic Agencies of the ITER Members, or the hundreds of enterprises around the world that are manufacturing the components that will one day be assembled here—I would like to express our profound satisfaction, our gratitude and our warmest thanks for the work accomplished, work which was crowned, last night, by the installation of the roof segment.
    Visible from afar this building—which will hold the ITER banner high—is the symbol of all that has been accomplished over the past years. This week's lifting operation marks a crucial step forward in our common adventure to bring to all of humanity, within this century, a new source of energy that is clean, safe, abundant, competitive with other energy sources, and practically inexhaustible.

    Here, in this antechamber to the Tokamak Complex, the principal elements of the machine with be fitted out and preassembled. Without this building, there would be no assembly, and without assembly there would be no machine and no project. You have all done a remarkable job in the service of the future of all humanity, we hope, and the crucial question of sustainable energy.
    Read more about the event here.

    11 June 2015

    Article in Nature

    Before the end of this year [2015], I am expected to submit, along with all stakeholders, an updated, robust and reliable schedule to the ITER Council, and a cost and risk analysis. With renewed management and a streamlined organization, we are now ready to prepare for the assembly and commissioning phase, the step before fusion switches on. Further delays and costs are inevitable. ITER will meet these challenges if it has the unanimous political support of the seven members, on the basis of the long-term value of fusion technology.

    Nature 522, 149-151 (11 June 2015), "Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion"

    20 May 2015

    Statement in 2014 Financial Report

    In the years ahead, the assembly of the ITER machine — with up to one million components — will be one of the most complex engineering endeavours ever undertaken. To meet the challenge, I am convinced that the ITER Organization and the seven ITER Domestic Agencies must act as an integrated team. I am progressively implementing the action plan I proposed to the ITER Council, which was unanimously approved by all partners. This action plan will result in some drastic changes with regard to the organization and the conduct of this project. But implementing new approaches and new procedures is inevitable if we want to succeed.

    ITER Organization 2014 Financial Statements

    14 May 2015

    Statement in 2014 Annual Report

    The ITER Project is entering a new and decisive era. The time of "learning" is past, and we are now moving into the critical — and technically challenging — phases of intense manufacturing, delivery control, assembly and installation. As the new ITER Director-General since 5 March 2015, it is my responsibility to implement the changes necessary to create the conditions for the effective and integrated management of the ITER Project during these important years. Let me reiterate my conviction that the development of fusion energy is not negotiable. If the world wants to quit its dependence on burning fossil fuels and the ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions that they cause, we have to deliver fusion energy to the grid as soon as we can.

    ITER Organization 2014 Annual Report, May 2015

    25 March 2015

    ITER Business Forum

    The international research program at ITER aims to demonstrate—thanks to a unique experimental scientific facility under construction in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France—the optimum conditions for the industrial production of abundant, continuous, safe and competitively-priced electricity from the fusion of hydrogen atoms during the latter half of this century. The challenge is a considerable one, but the potential is such that seven Members (China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States) have joined their forces to achieve it. The ITER Members represent more than 85% of gross domestic product and more than 50% of the world's population.

    5 March 2015

    Extraordinary meeting of the ITER Council, 5 March 2015

    The whole world needs innovative technologies to assure its long-term sustainable supply of energy. Magnetic confinement fusion is one of the most promising options. I am deeply honoured for the possibility of contributing to the large, international and ambitious research program that is ITER, which has innovation as its aim.


    A selection of recent project highlights in images and sound ...


    2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
    09 September 2019

    The status of ITER construction (June 2019, drone)

    With 2,000 workers active on the worksite, the status of the ITER scientific buildings and technical infrastructure changes daily. In this latest video filmed in June 2019, fly in, around, and over the structures that have been designed to house—or to support—the world's largest tokamak.

    10 September 2019

    Bernard Bigot on Roundtable: Is nuclear fusion a source of limitless energy

    Roundtable, from TRT World, describes itself as a discussion program with an edge. Broadcast out of London, it's about "bringing people to the table, listening to every opinion, and analyzing every point of view." In September 2019, host David Foster invited an illustrious panel to discuss the potential of hydrogen fusion: ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot; Steven Cowley, director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and former CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority; Mark Wenman, Imperial College London; and Colin Walters, current director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

    Click here to watch to the 25-minute show.

    Podcast with Director-General Bernard Bigot (Titans of Nuclear)

    Titans of Nuclear is a podcast featuring interviews with experts on nuclear energy by self-described engineer, robotics entrepreneur, and climate change thought leader Bret Kugelmass. In one of the most recent podcasts, Kugelmass interviews ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot on his experience in the nuclear field in France, the fundamentals of fusion energy, and the status of the ITER Project and its potential importance to the future of energy ...

    Click here to listen to the 43-minute podcast.

    15 October 2018

    Scientists to build a new prototype nuclear fusion reactor (Al Jazeera)

    A report by Al Jazeera Paris, filmed on site at ITER in October 2018.

    18 October 2018

    Can the world obtain clean nuclear energy 'by 2025'? (Sky News)

    A second video report by Sky News, filmed on site in October 2018.

    Podcast with Director-General Bernard Bigot (Fringe FM)

    Fringe FM is a podcast that "explores the edges of human understanding and looks at the technologies, trends and societal norms shaping our collective future," says creator Matt Ward. It invites today's top minds to discuss the future—from genetic engineering to manned space travel, AI and automation to factory farming, education and healthcare, the purpose of the podcast is to not only predict the future, but to create it.

    Tune in to Fringe FM's wide-ranging conversation with ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot on all things fusion here.

    29 September 2016

    Timelapse from inside the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility

    Courtesy of the European Domestic Agency for ITER (Fusion for Energy), a 50-second time lapse from inside the Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility where tooling qualification activities are underway and the first qualification double pancake has been wound. (September 2016) © F4E

    19 January 2017

    Is alluring but elusive fusion energy possible in our lifetime? (PBS NewsHour)

    In this nine-minute feature, PBS NewsHour (US) investigates a science that it describes as "alluring but elusive"—nuclear fusion. With the aid of Stephen O. Dean, President of Fusion Power Associates and lifelong fusion researcher and advocate, the documentary takes us on a tour of fusion research today, from the Californian startup Tri Alpha Energy to the "engineering test reactor" ITER. NewsHour Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports.

    © PBS NewsHour

    25 April 2017

    Completing the "world's largest fusion experiment" ITER (CNBC)

    In labs worldwide, scientists are collaborating, designing, prototyping and producing over 10 million parts. However how long will it take to finish ITER — one of the world's "most ambitious energy projects"? CNBC investigates.

    25 April 2017

    ITER: Demonstrating the feasibility of fusion (CNBC)

    "To make fusion available on Earth you need the largest size plant... the size is absolutely critical," so no single country can afford to construct this equipment alone on a reasonable time scale, explains ITER's Director General Bernard Bigot, in an interview with CNBC's Steve Sedgwick.

    29 September 2017

    ITER's Neutral Beam Test Facility

    At the Neutral Beam Test Facility in Padua, Italy, the components of ITER's most powerful heating system—neutral beam injection—will be put to the test. Two test beds—one operating an ITER-scale negative ion source, and the other a neutral beam injector at full acceleration voltage and power—will help resolve challenging technological issues and validate concepts before the systems are needed at ITER.

    Europe, Japan and India are contributing all components according to the specifications of Procurement Arrangements signed with the ITER Organization; Italy is building the facility as a voluntary contribution to the neutral beam development program.

    This video produced by facility host Consorzio-RFX in September 2017 shows how installation and commissioning are proceeding.

    15 November 2017

    Interview with Bernard Bigot (VINCI Energies)

    Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the ITER Organization, explains the principle on which the ITER fusion megaproject it is based, how it works and the purpose of the program.

    20 February 2018

    Drone chronicles 12 months of progress

    The latest video clip from ENGAGE* takes us through one year of ITER construction, beginning in January 2017—when many of the auxiliary plant buildings were just barely skeletal structures—to December, with the buildings completely framed out and work on the bioshield nearly completed.  

    * ENGAGE (Egis, Assystem, Atkins, Empresarios Agrupados) is the Architect/Engineer for the European Domestic Agency.

    15 May 2018

    The ITER cryoplant (Air Liquide)

    The ITER cryogenic plant will be designed, manufactured and installed by Air Liquide. More than 100 employees have been working for more than five years on the project; this video walks us through the complex plant planned for ITER.

    24 October 2018

    Round up of Q2 2018 on the ITER worksite (ENGAGE)

    This video by the European Domestic Agency's architect-engineer ENGAGE follows Mike Hunting, Building Delivery Manager, as he describes the challenge of coordinating building works on site in a context of tight deadlines and complex interfaces and activities.

    13 September 2016

    Interview on Czech TV

    In this special edition of Hyde Park Civilizace (Czech TV CT24), the ITER Director-General is invited to the Institute of Plasma Physics, Czech Academy of Sciences—home to the COMPASS tokamak. It's the occasion for the program's host to ask: How does ITER work? Why does the fusion community need this massive experiment?  What role for smaller tokamaks? And when will ITER be fully operational?

    Answers in this 55-minute feature ...

    26 January 2017

    APAVE: Ensuring worker safety

    With a large number of workers on the ITER construction platform, a large number of contracting companies, and overlapping project sites ... safety must be a concern shared by all. A 25-person team from APAVE, Health and Safety Protection Coordinator for the European Domestic Agency, is on the worksite daily, carrying out inspections, identifying possible dangers and training workers. In this video, we follow APAVE prevention consultant Cyril Lefebvre on his daily rounds.

    04 May 2016

    Fusion reactor still in works

    In this three-minute video Voice of America reports on the status of the ITER Project, and talks with Director-General Bigot on recent progress, his participation in a recent US House of Representatives hearing on fusion energy science, and the commitment of the ITER Members to the new schedule and cost profile of ITER construction.

    29 June 2016

    A Slice of the Sun (BBC Horizons)

    "The proponents of fusion power have for years been promising us a plentiful and relatively safe form of new energy. Well here, at ITER in France, they are starting to make good on that promise."

    So begins the 30-minute documentary film on ITER and fusion that aired in June 2016 on BBC Horizons. Presenter Adam Shaw visits ITER in the south of France as well as labs around the world (Germany, US and Canada) to learn more about the "tantalizing possibility" of fusion and its chance at transforming the world's relationship with energy. 

    30 September 2015

    The Big Lift

    The roof structure of the ITER Assembly Hall (730 metric tons) is successfully lifted into place in a 14-hour operation on 10-11 September 2015. 

    12 November 2015

    ITER Assembly Part I: The world's largest puzzle

    After watching The world's largest puzzle: Assembly of the ITER Cryostat, we believe you'll never think of ITER in the same way again. In this six-minute video, you'll travel inside the cryostat as the ITER vacuum vessel is assembled and aligned. You'll see which components will be positioned first, and how. You'll stand at the bottom of the bioshield as the largest single component of the ITER machine, the base of the cryostat, descends from far above into position...

    About the Director

    On 5 March 2015, the ITER Council appointed Bernard Bigot, from France, Director-General of the ITER Organization.
    Bernard Bigot has been closely associated with ITER since France's bid to host the project in 2003. Following the ITER site decision in 2005, the signature of the ITER Agreement in 2006 and its ratification by all Members in 2007, Mr Bigot was delegated by the French government to act as High Representative for the implementation of ITER in France, a position that he has occupied since 2008.
    With the responsibility of coordinating the realization of ITER and ensuring the representation of France to the ITER Members and the ITER Organization, he has followed the project for some twenty years.
    In his long and distinguished career, Bernard Bigot has held senior positions in research, higher education and government. Prior to his appointment at ITER he completed two terms (2009-2012 and 2012-2015) as Chairman and CEO of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, CEA. This government-funded technological research organization—with ten research centres in France, a workforce of 16,000 and an annual budget of EUR 4.3 billion—is active in low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies, and health technologies.
    From 2003 to 2009 Bernard Bigot served as France's High commissioner for atomic energy, an independent scientific authority whose mission is to advise the French President and the French government on nuclear and renewable energy policy and in all the other scientific and technological domains where the CEA intervenes.
    On his long experience in the field of energy, he says: "I've always been concerned with energy issues. Energy is the key to mankind's social and economic development. Today, 80 percent of the energy consumed in the world comes from fossil fuels and we all know that this resource will not last forever. With fusion energy we have a potential resource for millions of years. Harnessing it is an opportunity we cannot miss."
    Bernard Bigot was trained at the Ecole normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud and holds an agrégation (highest-level teaching diploma in France) in physical science and a PhD in chemistry. He is a high-ranking university professor (classe exceptionnelle) at the Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, which he helped to establish and which he directed from 2000 to 2003. Author of over 70 publications in theoretical chemistry, Bernard Bigot was also in charge of research at the Ecole normale supérieure and Director of the Institut de recherche sur la catalyse, a CNRS laboratory specializing in catalysis research.
    In parallel to these academic responsibilities, he worked at the ministerial level in France as Head of the Scientific and Technical Mission (1993-1996), Director-General of Research and Technology (1996-1997), and Deputy Director for Research from 1998 to 2000.
    In 2002, Bernard Bigot was appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Research and New Technologies Minister and Assistant Private Secretary to the Minister for Youth, Education and Research. It was during his tenure in this office that France proposed a site in Cadarache (southern France) to host the ITER Project.
    Bernard Bigot is a Commandeur in the French Order of the Legion of Honour, a Commandeur in the Royal Swedish Order of the Polar Star, and an Officer the French Order of the National Merit. In October 2014 he received the Gold and Silver Star in the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun.

    Download the biography in pdf format.