Ministerial representatives from the ITER parties with Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy and Geneviève Fioraso, French Minister of Higher Education and Research. ©ITER
The initiative of Günther H. Oettinger, EU Energy Commissioner, to call a ministerial level meeting in Cadarache paid off. It was the second time in the history of the project that ministerial representatives of the seven ITER parties met and were able to witness the progress of the biggest international scientific collaboration in the field of energy. What started as an idea decades ago has unfolded into a multi-faceted fully fledged project connecting frontier science, engineering, industry and research in order to make fusion energy a possibility for tomorrow’s energy mix.
With a rapidly evolving construction site in the background and with increasing manufacturing activity linked to ITER components, the seven parties acknowledged the progress of the project and used their political clout to echo once again the importance they attach to this collaboration. The French Minister of Higher Education and Research, representing the host state, explained that the project “addresses important societal concerns and nurtures major scientific ambition.”
The EU Commissioner, managing the biggest share of budget between the seven parties, stated that “the ITER project is a historical undertaking. Intensive effort and innovative methods will be required to meet all challenges that still lay ahead, especially the challenge of staying within a tight but realistic schedule while containing costs.” The commitment to remain focused on budget and delivery was shared by all delegations. This point was addressed by Professor Osamu Motojima, Director General of ITER International Organization, who acknowledged the fact that “good progress has been made possible through the enormous collaborative effort within what we call the ‘Unique ITER Team’; that is a strong partnership formed by the ITER International Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies.”
Apart from discussing the progress of the project and witnessing the evolution of the construction site, the meeting offered all delegations the opportunity to connect and reminded them that only through international collaboration we can effectively tackle societal and economic challenges, like energy and climate change, that crosscut all continents.