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Global leaders celebrate start of assembly of ITER fusion energy-producing device

(Xinhua)    09:00, July 29, 2020

Leaders from the European Union (EU), China, France, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States on Tuesday declared the official start of the assembly of the world's largest nuclear fusion device at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France.

Under construction in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, south France, the ITER site has been receiving gigantic first-of-a-kind components -- in many cases weighing several hundred tons each and more than 15 meters long -- produced by ITER consortium members in recent months. Assembling the ITER machine will take 4.5 years, according to a press release from the ITER project.

When ITER is finished, it is expected that it will demonstrate that fusion power can be generated sustainably on a commercial scale, it added.

"Today we celebrate more than just a technical milestone," said European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson in her video speech to representatives from all of the ITER members attending the celebration ceremony either in-person at the ITER site or virtually via livestream.

"The clean energy transition is both an ethical necessity and an economic opportunity," she said. "ITER perfectly demonstrates this duality: it is a major investment in our high-tech industries and clean energy sources for the future."

President Emmanuel Macron of France, the host country, hailed the ITER as "a promise of peace." "There are moments when the nations of the world choose to overcome their differences to meet a particular moment in history. The decision to launch ITER, in the mid-2000s, was one of these moments," he said in a video message.

Unlike existing fission reactors, which extracts energy by splitting atoms, ITER would generate power by fusion, similar to the way that produces the sun's energy. Fusion has neither physical possibility of a run-away accident with meltdown nor long-term legacy of waste disposal.

Reputed as an "Artificial Sun", the ITER program is one of the largest and most important international scientific research project in the world. China officially joined the program in 2006.

In late May, the 1,250-ton soup bowl-shaped cryostat base -- the heaviest single piece -- of the ITER was positioned in the so-called tokamak pit near Cadarache in southern France, marking the official start of the main equipment installation of the largest international scientific research cooperation project in the world, a Chinese group participating in the project had told Xinhua.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion.

"The base was placed into its position with very high precision. The success of this unique, one-of-a-kind operation wrote a new record in our history," a spokesperson of China Nuclear Power Engineering (CNPE) told Xinhua.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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