ITER ‘needs to do better’ to benefit from next build phase

UK industry has won more than £100m worth of contracts so far from the construction of the ITER fusion project in France but needs to do better if it is to benefit from the next construction phase, worth up to €2bn (£1.7bn).

This is one of the conclusions of a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-sponsored event on ‘Business Opportunities for UK plc for Fusion and ITER’ held at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in Oxfordshire on 23 September.

ITER will be the world’s largest fusion energy experiment when it is completed in 2019. UK companies have fared well during the site preparation phase at Cadarache in southern France. The next phase will see a large portion of the project’s €10bn tokamak and buildings construction budget being spent.

More than 100 companies attended the one-day conference at which representatives from ITER, Fusion for Energy (F4E) Europe’s procurement agency for ITER, UKTI, CCFE engineers and UK companies working on ITER projects reviewed the business opportunities and engineering challenges in the next phase of ITER construction and described the procurement procedure and tendering process.

‘The ITER project faces significant engineering and project management challenges where UK companies can compete effectively – either on their own or as part of a consortium. ITER is providing new business opportunities to companies that are keen to use their expertise in this prestigious programme,’ said Dan Mistry, fusion and industry manager at CCFE.

‘Currently, the UK is third in ranking [behind France and Italy] in contracts awarded but we want to be number one,’ added Mistry. ‘The only way we’re going to climb is if more companies take note of these opportunities and respond. F4E has nearly €2bn to spend in the next three years and we want to alert companies of these opportunities, so if you are interested please pre-qualify and register your details on ITER’s, F4E’s and our own database and join the list of successful companies – Atkins Global, Tessella, Halcrow, Jacobs, Oxford Technologies and Oxford Instruments to name but a few.’

Companies can sign up for CCFE’s industry database at www.fusion-industry.org.uk.

As the debate over global warming rages, a £7bn international project, ITER, is trying to prove that nuclear fusion may ultimately provide us with cheap, safe energy. Click here to read more (subscription required).