The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

$16-million-a-second and no electricity — Beyond Nuclear International

ITER fusion reactor has countries cooperating for the wrong cause

$16-million-a-second and no electricity — Beyond Nuclear International

Exorbitant fusion project is obsolete and might even be inoperable

By Linda Pentz Gunter, 10 Apr 23,

As defined by World Nuclear News, the international fusion project known as ITER, exists “to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. The goal of ITER is to operate at 500 MW (for at least 400 seconds continuously) with 50 MW of plasma heating power input. It appears that an additional 300 MWe of electricity input may be required in operation. No electricity will be generated at ITER.”

Four hundred seconds. No electricity.

ITER, which stands for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is a collaboration between 35 countries that was first conceived in 1985 and formally agreed to on November 21, 2006. Construction began in 2010 at the Cadarache nuclear complex in southern France. 

The  official seven group founding members of ITER are China, the European Union (then including the UK, which remains in the project), India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.


By the time ITER is actually operational — if it ever is — it will have gobbled up billions of dollars. Currently, those cost estimates range wildly between the official ITER figure of $19-23 billion (likely a gross under-estimate) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) current estimate of $65 billion.

The starting price when the project began was around $6.3 billion.

If the DOE numbers are right, then those 400 seconds will cost $16.25 million a second. Just to prove that fusion power is possible. Without actually delivering anything practical at all to anyone.

Whatever the costs, they are too high to be remotely justifiable, given the end product and the far more compelling and essential competing needs of the world right now. 

Worse still, ITER may not actually work. “ITER is of the tokamak based design using strong magnetic fields to confine the very hot plasma needed to induce the fusion reaction,” explained two scientists in a January 2021 paper published in Nature — Potential design problems for ITER fusion device. “Building a successful magnetic fusion device for energy production is of great challenge.” 

The paper’s authors, Hassanein and Sizyuk, who modeled the ITER design “in full and exact 3D geometry,” contend that, “The current ITER divertor design will not work properly during transient plasma events and needs to be modified or a new design should be developed to ensure successful operation and maintain the confidence in the tokamak concept as a viable magnetic fusion energy production system.”

So far, the ITER project has already experienced some technical failures. ………………………………………………………

There is now considerable competition in the fusion field, with US laboratories, especially, eager to demonstrate ITER as obsolete before it is even completed — current predictions make that date some time in 2035. But, as we pointed out last December, during the false fanfare about a breakthrough at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), fusion is already obsolete. Given the confluence of the climate crisis and emerging energy needs in much of the less developed world, fusion has no practical applicability.

International collaboration is desperately needed in today’s conflict-riven world. It just needs to focus on something that’s mutually beneficial to our collective survival. Let’s start spending $16 million a second on that.


April 11, 2023 - Posted by | Reference, technology

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: