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30th ITER Council: Progress in a time of challenge and transition

The Council chamber on the fifth floor of the ITER Headquarters building resonated once again with the sound of voices as Member representatives gathered for the 30th Meeting (IC-30) on 15 and 16 June 2022.  Whereas the 2020 and 2021 ITER Council meetings had convened remotely, IC-20 was a hybrid meeting with approximately 60 people attending in person and others connected by video conference. A minute of silence was held in honour of Director-General Bernard Bigot, who passed away on 14 May 2022. The process to select a successor is already underway under the responsibility of the ITER Council's recruitment search committee. Council members commended the ITER senior management—including in particular Eisuke Tada, appointed in the interim role of Director-General—as well as the broader One-ITER team for strong performance and collaboration during this challenging transitional period. Under the chairmanship of Massimo Garribba, from Europe, representatives of the ITER Members reviewed the progress of construction, manufacturing, and assembly. As requested by the ITER Council during its meeting in November 2021, the ITER Organization—based on many months of collaboration with the ITER Domestic Agencies—presented a proposed revision of the project Baseline, taking into account all observed schedule variances due to the Covid-19 pandemic and technical challenges encountered with some large components as well as opportunities and other mitigation measures. Work will now continue to further develop the proposal. The ITER Council also took note of recent delivery and assembly milestones, including the installation of the first completed vacuum vessel sector module in the assembly pit, and the latest report of interactions with the French regulator, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), on the release of the regulatory hold point for assembly. Read the full press release in English and French.

Open Doors Day | Back together again

After more than two years, ITER has resumed a tradition that dates back to 2007—Open Doors Day. On Saturday 18 June, more than 50 "volunteers," staff and contractors of the ITER Organization, the European agency for ITER, Fusion for Energy, and ITER Construction Manager-as-Agent MOMENTUM, welcomed 800 people to share in the latest progress of ITER construction. Schoolchildren, students, ITER staff and their families, members of the public—including from such far away places as Thailand, Venezuela, and Brazil—braved the scorching heat to have the opportunity to learn more about ITER science, machine assembly, and manufacturing. In the European magnet winding facility on the platform, visitors were walked through the steps of transforming coiled spools of superconductor into the large ring magnets that girdle the ITER machine; inside the climate-controlled Assembly Hall, they saw two of the subsections of the ITER plasma chamber in various stages of equipment and pre-assembly and a whole host of mammoth tools created especially to handle them.   The visitors were passionate about what they saw. "What impresses us the most is the broad participation in this project—it seems the intelligence of the world is coming together in ITER! We were curious to see that expressed during the visit and we haven't been disappointed,' said one French senior. A younger visitor was fascinated by the components on display, agreeing that the building blocks of the poloidal field coils (the double pancakes) actually look like pancakes and comparing the vacuum vessel sectors to large ears... or other larger but similarly smooth and rounded parts of human anatomy. Inside of the ITER Visitors Centre, guests for the day were offered explicative videos, a virtual reality simulation and—most of all—the explanations of dozens of ITER scientists, engineers and project managers. Several exhibits for children were also popular, including marshmallow-shrinking vacuum experiments and a discovery truck set up by the local scientific association Les Petits Débrouillards (The little crafty ones). For this first 'in person' Open Door Day since September 2019, the enthusiasm was intact on both sides. The ITER 'volunteers' enjoyed showcasing the major operations that have been performed during this more-than-two-year intermission, and the public could hardly believe how much progress had been accomplished despite the constraints of the pandemic. All in all, this 16th edition of the ITER Open Doors Day felt like a happy reunion.

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EPS Forum—where physics meets industry

The first week of June, the European Physical Society (EPS) organized the EPS Forum for the first time. The aim of the conference, which took place at the Sorbonne University in Paris, was to connect young physicists with big science and industry. No fewer than three Nobel Prize Laureates were among the speakers—Barry Barish, Serge Haroche and John Michael Kosterlitz—to present the latest developments in the fields of quantum technology, energy science, accelerators, high-energy particle and nuclear physics. The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, and the Vice-President of the European Research Council, Andrzej Jajszczyk, opened the EPS Forum on the first day. As one of the first scientific speakers, Alberto Loarte, Head of the ITER Science Division, presented the physics basis of ITER and the status of the project. The interest showed by the young audience was enormous—as the steady traffic to the joint ITER/FuseNet booth proved. One physics student from Macedonia, still undecided about his professional future, was so interested that he boarded the fast train from Paris down to Aix-en-Provence to see ITER with his own eyes. For more impressions from the first EPS Forum click here.

2d IAEA Workshop on Fusion Enterprises

A virtual workshop organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 11 and 12 July 2022 will bring together actors in the fusion community to discuss the commercialization of fusion energy. What does market analysis tell us about the potential demand for fusion? What is fusion's place in the future energy mix? What steps remain to commercialization? What are the economic constraints? Panels will also discuss recent trends in public and private investment, the enabling technologies that can accelerate deployment, and the incredibly dynamic fusion startup ecosystem. The ITER Organization's Taka Omae, Chief Strategist, will participate in Session 6 "Future Considerations" on Day 2. Monday 20 June is the last day to register. See this page for all information.

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