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London, United Kingdom, 2008/08/29 - France has been chosen to host the ITER research centre at Cadarache, in the south of France. The project will involve the construction of an experimental nuclear-fusion reactor using hydrogen isotopes.
Calls to tender are currently being issued for the project.
ITER is a joint international research-and-development project that aims to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. The partners in the project – the ITER Parties – are the European Union (represented by EURATOM), Japan, China, India, South Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA.
The site at Cadarache, which is already home to the energy research centre of the French atomic energy commission (Commissariat français à l’énergie atomique), was selected in 2005 by the ITER Parties. It will take 10 years to build the research centre, followed by an estimated 20 years of scientific experiments in order to prove that fusion can be a new and reliable source of energy.
Total investment in the project is estimated at €10 billion (estimate made in 2000), approximately half of which will be used in the first 10 years. ITER will have a major impact on both the national and regional economy of France. To date, an estimated €210 million has been allocated to companies by means of a tender process that is open to French and international industrial and services companies. The national agencies of the ITER partners are currently issuing calls for tender concerning the construction phase of the site, as well as its equipment, via the iter website – a platform that can also be used to find partners.
The first direct contractors’ agreements and industrial partnerships are expected to be in place within two years, which should lead to an influx of projects in the following fields: services or sub-contracting companies specialising in nuclear power that would need to be located at Cadarache to serve local clients; representative offices that would need to be set up in close proximity to the ITER project management site; maintenance offices close to the site to ensure servicing and maintenance of the various reactor components (during the construction phase and operations); and assembly plants (particularly for large components requiring several companies to work together). Finally, several major international groups intend to carry out feasibility studies to determine the cost of producing components locally.
The ITER Industrial Committee can provide information to interested companies about potential partnerships. ITER, along with the European Union agency Fusion for Energy, is responsible for the design, construction and installation of the research centre. The ITER Mission is in charge of regional infrastructure and, finally, the ITER France Agency ensures interaction between the different bodies involved in the construction of the centre.
Three French competitiveness clusters are also involved in the ITER project – CapEnergies (Provence, Alps and Côte d’Azur), Trimatec (PACA, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alps) and Burgundy Nuclear Partnership (Burgundy).
France has had a high level of expertise in the civil nuclear-energy sector for more than 50 years, including in natural-uranium graphite-gas reactors, new-generation EPR reactors, and high-pressure water reactors – of which it has the largest installed capacity in the world.
“The French government actively supports research and has introduced the best R&D tax-credit system in Europe, which reimburses 50% of R&D costs in the first year. Its budget of over €1.4 billion in 2006 was increased to approximately €2 billion in 2008, following the reform introduced in 2007,” says Philippe Favre, President of the Invest in France Agency.
About the Invest in France Agency
The Invest in France Agency (IFA) promotes and facilitates international investment in France. The IFA network operates worldwide. IFA works in partnership with regional development agencies to offer international investors business opportunities and customised services all over France.
For more information about this press release, please contact Martin Hedges, Director of Communications at the Invest in France Agency in London.