Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today released an assessment report of the U.S. participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, and he recommends that the U.S. continue its role in the project has struggled with schedules and costs. Moniz cited recent improvements on several fronts at the project, which is under construction at Cadarache, France, but also acknowledged the ongoing issues that must be addressed and reevaluated a couple of years down the road.
The U.S. involvement in ITER is based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In a message at the front of the Department of Energy’s 18-page report, Moniz said, “ITER remains the best candidate today to demonstrate sustained burning plasma, which is a necessary precursor to demonstrating fusion energy power. Having fully assessed the facts regarding the U.S. contributions to the ITER project, I recommend that the U.S. remain a partner in the ITER project through FY 2018 and focus on efforts related to First Plasma.”
He added: ” The U.S. along with all ITER Members across the world have witnessed and acknowledged the significant progress made at ITER by the new leadership, but there is still much that remains to be done. Prior to the FY 2019 budget submittal (late in calendar year 2017 to early 2018), I recommend that the U.S. re-evaluate its participation in the ITER project to assess if it remains in our best interests to continue our participation. My recommendation to support First Plasma cash and in-kind contributions is predicated on continued and sustained progress on the project, increased transparency of the ITER project risk management process, as well as a suite of management reforms proposed in this report that we expect will be agreed upon by the ITER Council. At this time, our continued participation in the fashion recommended is consistent with DOE’s science mission and is in the best interest of the nation.”
Besides the United States, other members of ITER are the European Union, Japan, China, South Korea, India, and Russia.
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