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European Commission


EU Commissioner for Energy

Speech: Inauguration of the ITER Headquarters Building in Cadarache

Inauguration of the ITER Headquarters Building/Cadarache

17 January 2013

Dear Director General Motojima,

Madame le Ministre,

Dear Senators, Mayors, Prefects,

Dear representatives of our ITER Partner Countries,

Dear ITER staff and everybody involved in the ITER project,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here in this beautiful amphitheatre on the occasion of the inauguration of the ITER headquarters building.

Dear Director General, Dr. Osamu Motojima, best wishes from Brussels, thank you for your work and of your staff. We wish you every success in this impressive and interesting process.

ITER plays an essential role on the route to fusion as a sustainable energy source.

Indeed, ITER is the gateway we must pass through to get to DEMO and the first commercial fusion power plant.

It therefore attracts widespread coverage not only in the scientific press but also in the broad local and international press where its ups and downs are put in the spotlight.

It is also one of the world’s biggest scientific collaborations involving countries representing over half of the world’s population.

It brings the global community together behind the important and ambitious mission to bring clean and limitless energy into everyday use.

At this time when the urgency to transform our energy system has been overshadowed by the financial crisis it is important that we keep steadfast in funding projects like ITER which is at the forefront of energy technology research in the world, giving a long term view towards the decarbonisation of our energy supply.

ITER, one of the world’s biggest scientific collaborations, has a key role to play in establishing fusion as a sustainable energy source.

This is in line with our EU's intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 up to 95% by 2050.

To achieve this ambitious reduction, significant investments are required in research, development and demonstration of efficient safe and reliable low carbon energy technologies.

Moreover, it benefits the economy of the countries, especially through the high tech SMEs sector. With ITER being located on EU territory, here in Cadarache, we play a key role in global energy technology research now and in the future.

Providing components for the ITER Project is a very challenging task. Many components are far from being standard and need substantial Research & Demonstration to reach the technological needs of the Project.

Our industries and research centres are responding very positively to these challenging tasks.

The ITER Organization is still relatively young but closing in on the end of its steep learning curve.

Ways of co-operation within the ITER Organization itself and with the Domestic Agencies of our other ITER Parties should be further optimised and made more efficient.

These challenges lead, as with many similar large scale and complex projects, to the important challenge of keeping the project to schedule and within budget.

This challenge we must all address together as a priority - especially in the context of the present financial and budget crisis - and I am sure all working for the ITER Organisation as well as in the Domestic Agencies would agree to this and accept this challenge.

This morning I already had the opportunity this morning to look around this impressive building which looks very functional.

The architects are to be congratulated for their smart design as well as F4E and "Agence ITER France" who supported its construction.

I understand it provides space for 500 staff members who I am sure will very much enjoy working in this building in the next years.

Now that the building is up and running bringing all the ITER staff on the same site it will, I am sure, provide that extra ingredient to bring those working here together as one community and family to reach a common goal.

You are now, I believe, all looking forward to the day when you will be busy and excited moving from this building through the connecting tunnel to the ITER control room where so many wonderful results are expected.

I have also this morning visited the ITER site, in particular the Poloidal Field Coil building and the Tokamak pit where an impressive amount of work is on show as part of the EU contribution.

At the end of last year, the European Domestic Agency, Fusion for Energy has already awarded contracts for an amount of 1.8 billion €, representing around 40% of the procurements needed to deliver the European contribution to ITER.

Major project milestones have been achieved in the course of 2012 for ITER, such as the handover of this building to the ITER Organisation and the Decree by the French Republic authorising the installation of the ITER nuclear facility in Cadarache.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay special thanks to the French Government for its commitment as the Host Country of ITER and its determination in addressing the challenges and the needs of this important project. Seeing you all here today is a perfect demonstration of your commitment.

ITER remains an important endeavour for European leadership in driving the project forward.

Europe, as the main contributor – providing around 45% of the whole investment – has a particular responsibility to make ITER a success.

In this role, the Commission has proposed at the last ITER Council of November 2012, to hold a Ministerial meeting, a high-level conference, to allow all ITER Parties to reconfirm - several years after the first ministerial meeting in Paris in 2006 - their political commitment.

It should also provide a platform for high-level discussions and decisions on the progress and performance of the project and on initiatives to facilitate its implementation.

The Ministerial should take place in autumn this year in this wonderful building in Cadarache.

I wish all of you and in particular the ITER staff present great success for the future and good progress in the next years, Thank you.

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