ITER Nature BigotITER director-general Bernard Bigot explains how he will strengthen leadership and management to refocus the project's aim of harnessing nuclear fusion. Ten years ago this month, China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States agreed on the location for the world's largest nuclear-fusion experiment: ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which they had decided to build jointly. India joined six months later. The project's aim is to fuse two isotopes of hydrogen — tritium and deuterium — to deliver a powerful, clean source of electricity. This requires the containment of plasma at temperatures ten times higher than the Sun's core.

Roughly €4-billion (US$4.4-billion) worth of construction contracts and €3 billion in manufacturing contracts worldwide are under way. The first large components are being delivered to the site at St-Paul-lez-Durance in southern France for assembly.

The project has been plagued by delays and difficulties. The seven ITER members are designing and manufacturing key components. When deadlines or standards are not met, the knock-on effects across the whole project can be dire. Late contracts for tools have kept one of the largest buildings — in which ring-shaped magnets up to 24 metres in diameter will be manufactured — inactive since its completion in December 2011. When problems arise, bickering ensues as to who should foot the bill.

I have been a privileged observer from the start, as the high representative for ITER in the host country, France. Because France itself is not a formal member of ITER — it contributes to the European Union budget for the project and to some basic site infrastructures — I, like many others, could only witness with frustration the slipping of the schedule despite the best efforts of the more than 2,000 dedicated people working on ITER.

Since becoming director-general of the ITER Organization, which manages the project, in March, I have realized that ITER's main problem has been the lack of a clearly defined authority to oversee the entire project. Having someone firmly in the driving seat, with the power to take decisions, is the key to success in any project. I have learned this over the course of my career — through building an innovative higher-education institute from scratch (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon) and as head of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission for 12 years.

Here, I set out my vision for ITER. The project must overcome its organizational problems so that it can deliver on its promise of taking a firm step towards harnessing an unlimited, continuous, safe and clean source of energy. These lessons apply to any major international collaboration.

A rocky transition

Since construction began on ITER five years ago, it has become increasingly apparent that the project's management structure is poorly adapted to the challenge of building a large, complex research facility.

Take the 8,000-tonne ITER vacuum vessel, the doughnut-shaped central component of the 'tokamak' reactor that houses the fusion reactions. Seven of its nine sectors are to be manufactured in Europe and two in South Korea, with each region or country taking responsibility for how they are sourced. Having two contractors is a risk, because each has its own manufacturing techniques; duplicating the processes that validate the quality and function of components, such as fabricating mock-ups, adds to the cost; and the tolerance margins that each contractor has adopted differ. Yet the ITER Organization is responsible for assembling the final vessel.

Any modification has a cascading impact on other components. This has generated an almost endless to-and-fro between the ITER Organization, procuring member countries and suppliers. This situation has already cost ITER tens of millions of euros.

People know there is a problem. A 2013 management-assessment report described the decision-making process at the ITER Organization as “ill-defined and poorly implemented”. The management structure has proved incapable of solving issues and responding to the project's needs, so accumulating technical difficulties have led to stalemates, misunderstandings and tension between staff around the world. These problems stem from how the organization was set up through an international treaty in 2007.

First, deputy director-generals from each member country or region were given responsibility for one large technical or administrative department of the ITER Organization. These managers also acted as official representatives for their nation or nations.

Second, the procurement of components, systems and buildings is split among the member states so that each could gain experience. The work is assigned according to the industrial capacities of members and a cost-sharing scheme that allocates 45.5% to the European Union (as the host) and just over 9% to each of the others. Each member has a procurement centre, called a domestic agency, that is legally and administratively independent from the central ITER Organization.

The organization is responsible for validating the design of the facility; compliance with safety regulations; coordination of manufacturing and quality control of the numerous components; their on-site assembly; and later, the operation of the facility.

Paperwork abounds. For each work package, the organization signs a procurement arrangement with the relevant domestic agency that details all technical specifications and management requirements. The domestic agency then launches a call for tender to select a company or consortium to do the work.

Such a system has benefits: procurements are shared widely, industries in member states develop, spin-offs are generated, jobs are created and specialists trained. Intellectual property generated by the project is shared. But it has become ever more obvious — as successive reports have pointed out — that the costs outweigh the benefits.

Team building

I accepted the job of director-general on the condition that the position was newly invested with full authority over the whole project. Authority and a radical redefinition of how the organization interacts with the domestic agencies are at the core of the action plan that I submitted to the ITER Council in January, before my formal appointment.

The domestic agencies will retain their distinct legal identity. But they will be integrated functionally and put on an equal footing with the departments in what we now call the ITER Organization Central Team, based in St-Paul-lez-Durance.

A new executive project board brings together the managers of the central team and the domestic agencies at least once a month, in person or by video conference. Disputes can be settled and decisions taken swiftly.

Technical issues — from construction to radioprotection and cryogenics — are handled by project teams of 20 to 50 people, depending on the scope. They comprise staff from the central team and domestic agencies on the basis of technical need, professional skills and experience. When necessary, representatives of contracting industries participate.

It is too late and costly to reverse decisions that have already been made — such as how the tokamak vacuum vessel is fabricated. Problems must be solved downstream; in April, the executive project board formed a joint ITER Organization and domestic agency project team to anticipate and overcome integration and assembly issues. Had this decision been taken earlier it would have saved time, money and frustration.

The ITER Organization and domestic agencies together employ 2,000 people. Changing how ITER is managed will alter its culture. I aim to foster an atmosphere in which each party or individual feels personally responsible for the whole project, not just their area of competence. One of my first actions after becoming director was to address the staff of each domestic agency. The most striking moment was in a video session with all four Asian agencies. For the first time, colleagues in Japan, India, South Korea and China saw the faces of their counterparts, changing the dynamic towards a shared global ambition.

I am also implementing a new type of mobility throughout the project. This will enable appropriate domestic-agency staff to be temporarily seconded to the ITER site, or central-team staff to be assigned to domestic agencies.

The ITER Council has agreed to this new organization. I am grateful for their strong support and the progress already made in solving technical issues and improving communication.

Discretionary fund

There is still much more to do. Authority requires the financial means to exercise it. I have asked for the creation of a reserve fund, to be put at my disposal. Each domestic agency will contribute, allowing me to take quick and efficient decisions to address issues as they arise. Terms of reference will be presented to the council in June for approval. The money will be drawn from the contributions of the ITER members in proportion to the amount they pay in.

In my experience of industrial projects, a reserve fund must comprise about 20% of fabrication costs over the duration of construction. In my view, it was naive not to establish such a fund much earlier in ITER's history.

Before the end of this year, I am expected to submit, along with all stakeholders, an updated, robust and reliable schedule to the ITER Council, and a cost and risk analysis. With renewed management and a streamlined organization, we are now ready to prepare for the assembly and commissioning phase, the step before fusion switches on.

Further delays and costs are inevitable. ITER will meet these challenges if it has the unanimous political support of the seven members, on the basis of the long-term value of fusion technology.

All of us at ITER have a huge, historic responsibility. The project may be the last chance we have this century to demonstrate that fusion is manageable.

Source: Nature

Local News

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Prev Next

Facts and myths about the general Sylwester Kaliski

03-03-2017

Facts and myths about the general Sylwester Kaliski

The lecture about the prominent and controversial character from the world of science, politics and army altogether – the Major General Professor and Engineer Sylwester Kaliski, the minister of science,...

Read more

Chief Editor of the Technical Review visited IPPLM

08-02-2017

Chief Editor of the Technical Review visited IPPLM

On 7th February 2017 the IPPLM Director had a pleasure to host the President of the NOT Federation of Engineering Associations Ewa Mańkiewicz-Cudny - the chief editor of the Technical...

Read more

What do we know about the gigahertz electromagnetic pulses?

23-01-2017

What do we know about the gigahertz electromagnetic pulses?

The mechanism of strong gigahertz electromagnetic pulses has not been well-known yet.  When high energy peak-off laser pulse is focused on the target, there is often the emission of very strong...

Read more

On the role of Polish scientists in designing IFMIF-DONES

16-01-2017

On the role of Polish scientists in designing IFMIF-DONES

During 11-13 January 2017 Dr. Angel Ibarra, the manager of the research work package Early Neutron Source (WPENS), paid a visit to the Polish Institutes that are involved scientifically in...

Read more

Green light for the Szczecin University

10-01-2017

Green light for the Szczecin University

The 6th CeNTE Governing Board Meeting can be undoubtedly called a historic one. Despite regular points for discussion, there was one more that appeared in the agenda, it was concerning...

Read more

Visit of the EUROfusion manager to Poland

05-12-2016

Visit of the EUROfusion manager to Poland

Tony Donné – the managing director of the EUROfusion Consortium with his deputy Xavier Litaudon visited a few Polish institutions that take part in European research on thermonuclear energy. The...

Read more

EFPW2016: What we haven't know yet about nuclear fusion?

01-12-2016

EFPW2016: What we haven't know yet about nuclear fusion?

It is not always easy to thoroughly analyze the past and think strategically about the future. However, the scientists from the leading plasma centers of Europe took this challenge with...

Read more

40 years of research for the future

20-09-2016

40 years of research for the future

The Jubilee year of the Sylwester Kaliski Institute of Plasma Physics and Laser Microfusion achieved its peak point with an official celebration on the Royal Castle in Warsaw, which took...

Read more

Krok ku zacieśnieniu współpracy z Włochami

18-07-2016

Krok ku zacieśnieniu współpracy z Włochami

Na corocznym spotkaniu fizyków z Polski i Włoch rozmawiano o perspektywach współpracy naukowej w dziedzinie syntezy termojądrowej. Polacy wyrazili duże zainteresowanie uczestnictwem w projekcie dot. budowy tokamaka DTT „Divertor Tokamak...

Read more

13. edycja Letniej Szkoły w Kudowie-Zdroju "Towards Fusion Energy"

28-06-2016

13. edycja Letniej Szkoły w Kudowie-Zdroju "Towards Fusion Energy"

W połowie czerwca 2016 roku odbyło się jedno z flagowych wydarzeń Instytutu, a mianowicie Letnia Szkoła Fizyki Plazmy w Kudowie-Zdroju – „Kudowa Summer School Towards Fusion Energy”. 13. edycja szkoły zebrała...

Read more

Dzieci rządzą w Kancelarii Premiera

06-06-2016

Dzieci rządzą w Kancelarii Premiera

Naukowcy IFPiLM wzięli udział w pikniku rodzinnym organizowanym z okazji Dnia Dziecka w ogrodach Kancelarii Prezesa Rady Ministrów. Dla najmłodszych uczestników pikniku przygotowane zostały fizyczne puzzle, rysowanki, wycinanki oraz inne...

Read more

Puzzle z reaktorem termojądrowym, czyli IFPiLM na 20. Pikniku Naukowym

12-05-2016

Puzzle z reaktorem termojądrowym, czyli IFPiLM na 20. Pikniku Naukowym

7 maja 2016 roku Instytut Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej Mikrosyntezy uczestniczył w jubileuszowej 20 edycji Pikniku Naukowego. Naukowcy Instytutu z pasją i zaangażowaniem opowiadali o syntezie jądrowej, pułapce magnetycznej, fizyce...

Read more

Trzy mln euro z Euratomu dla trzech polskich instytucji, w tym IFPiLM

06-04-2016

Trzy mln euro z Euratomu dla trzech polskich instytucji, w tym IFPiLM

Trzy polskie instytucje naukowe pozyskały od Komisji Europejskiej łącznie blisko 3 mln euro na projekty związane z rozwojem energetyki jądrowej w regionie bałtyckim i wyszehradzkim. Naukowcy czekają na firmy gotowe...

Read more

Gold Engineer 2015 goes to Dr. Jacek Kurzyna

10-03-2016

Gold Engineer 2015 goes to Dr. Jacek Kurzyna

The polish engineer magazine ‘Przegląd Techniczny’ (en. Technical Review) honoured Dr. Jacek Kurzyna, an experienced scientist of the IPPLM, with a title of ‘Gold Engineer 2015’. It was a credit...

Read more

Obchody 40-lecia powstania IFPiLM rozpoczęte

02-02-2016

Obchody 40-lecia powstania IFPiLM rozpoczęte

29 stycznia pracownicy Instytutu zebrali się na sali teatralnej w teatrze GO, aby zainaugurować jubileuszowy rok Instytutu Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej Mikrosyntezy. 40 lat temu, a dokładniej 1 stycznia 1976...

Read more

Plazma z „lodu wodorowego” jako nowe efektywne źródło protonów do różnych zastosowań

29-12-2015

Plazma z „lodu wodorowego” jako nowe efektywne źródło protonów do różnych zastosowań

Plazma laserowa jako źródło wysokoenergetycznych jonów stwarza duże możliwości aplikacyjne w medycynie oraz różnych dziedzinach nauki i techniki. W szczególności, dotyczy to wykorzystania strumieni protonów do terapii nowotworów (tzw. terapii...

Read more

Dyrektor NCBJ dr hab. inż. Krzysztof Kurek gościem IFPiLM

11-12-2015

Dyrektor NCBJ dr hab. inż. Krzysztof Kurek gościem IFPiLM

10 grudnia 2015 roku miała miejsce wizyta nowego dyrektora Narodowego Centrum Badań Jądrowych (NCBJ) w Instytucie Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej Mikrosyntezy (IFPiLM). Wizyta rozpoczęła się od spotkania dr. hab. inż....

Read more

Prof. Janusz Sylwester w IFPiLM

06-11-2015

Prof. Janusz Sylwester w IFPiLM

4 listopada br. gościem Instytutu był prof. Janusz Sylwester, Kierownik Zakładu Fizyki Słońca w Centrum Badań Kosmicznych PAN (CBK PAN), filia we Wrocławiu. Na zaproszenie dyrektora IFPiLM, prof. Sylwester wygłosił seminarium...

Read more

Konkurs na stanowisko dyrektora IFPiLM rozstrzygnięty

17-09-2015

Konkurs na stanowisko dyrektora IFPiLM rozstrzygnięty

Decyzją Ministra Gospodarki Janusza Piechocińskiego, z dniem 24 września 2015 roku, dr hab. Andrzej Gałkowski zostaje powołany na stanowisko dyrektora Instytutu Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej Mikrosyntezy im. Sylwestra Kaliskiego. Będzie to...

Read more

PLASMA-2015

08-09-2015

PLASMA-2015

W dniach 7-11 września br. odbyła się Międzynarodowa Konferencja na temat Badań i Zastosowań Plazmy – PLASMA-2015 (w j. ang.: International Conference on Research and Applications of Plasmas) organizowana przez...

Read more

Komisja Konkursowa wyłoniła kandydata na stanowisko dyrektora IFPiLM

02-09-2015

Komisja Konkursowa wyłoniła kandydata na stanowisko dyrektora IFPiLM

Komisja Konkursowa powołana przez Radę Naukową Instytutu Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej Mikrosyntezy im. S. Kaliskiego w Warszawie do wyłonienia kandydata na stanowisko dyrektora Instytutu po zakończeniu rozmowy kwalifikacyjnej i dokonaniu...

Read more

Fusion Expo już w 2017

17-07-2015

Fusion Expo już w 2017

Zielone światło dla organizacji kolejnej podróżującej wystawy Fusion Expo zapaliło się na ostatnim posiedzeniu ciała zarządzającego programem fuzji jądrowej w Europie. Nowa edycja wystawy ma powstać do końca 2017 roku. Decyzja...

Read more

Światowi decydenci w dziedzinie fuzji jądrowej spotkali się w Polsce (CWGM)

22-06-2015

Światowi decydenci w dziedzinie fuzji jądrowej spotkali się w Polsce (CWGM)

Po raz pierwszy w Polsce odbyło się międzynarodowe spotkanie grupy roboczej koordynującej prace nad opanowaniem reakcji fuzji jądrowej w układach typu stellarator-heliotron. Powierzenie organizacji konferencji Instytutowi Fizyki Plazmy i Laserowej...

Read more

IFPiLM na Polsko-Francuskim Forum Nauki i Innowacji

02-06-2015

IFPiLM na Polsko-Francuskim Forum Nauki i Innowacji

Naukowcy IFPiLM wzięli udział w pierwszym Polsko-Francuskim Forum Nauki i Innowacji. Celem spotkania było zaprezentowanie polsko-francuskich projektów naukowych i przedyskutowanie rozwoju współpracy naukowej między Francją a Polską. Kadra naukowa Instytutu opowiedziała...

Read more

III Posiedzenie Rady Zarządzającej Centrum NTE

15-05-2015

III Posiedzenie Rady Zarządzającej Centrum NTE

14 maja 2015 roku w IFPiLM odbyło się kolejne posiedzenie Rady Zarządzającej Centrum NTE. Jednym z najważniejszych punktów spotkania było merytoryczne sprawozdanie z działalności Centrum za rok 2014, które wygłosił...

Read more

World News

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Prev Next

First EU diagnostic components delivered to ITER site

10-04-2017

First EU diagnostic components delivered to ITER site

The first ITER diagnostic components to be supplied by F4E – five Continuous External Rogowski (CER) coils – were delivered to the ITER site earlier this week and  acceptance testing...

Read more

Kazakhstan expresses interest in collaboration

28-02-2017

Kazakhstan expresses interest in collaboration

The representatives of the nuclear institutions of Kazakhstan who visited ITER on 21st February 2017 stated it simply and clearly: they are very interested in collaborating with ITER. The largest of the...

Read more

EUROfusion welcomes Ukraine into the family

24-01-2017

EUROfusion welcomes Ukraine into the family

As of 1 January 2017, Ukraine became part of the EUROfusion consortium. The Ukrainian signatory is the Kharkov Institute for Physics and Technology (KIPT) and it will coordinate the fusion...

Read more

Korean fusion reactor achieves record plasma

29-12-2016

Korean fusion reactor achieves record plasma

The Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) tokamak-type nuclear fusion reactor has achieved a world record of 70 seconds in high-performance plasma operation, South Korea's National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI)...

Read more

Wendelstein achieves ultra-precise magnetic topology

07-12-2016

Wendelstein achieves ultra-precise magnetic topology

A recent article in the online journal Nature Communications confirms that the complex topology of the magnetic field of Wendelstein 7-X—the world's largest stellarator—is highly accurate, with deviations from design...

Read more

Impressive progress of ITER’s first Toroidal Field coil is

24-10-2016

Impressive progress of ITER’s first Toroidal Field coil is

After having completed the insulation of ITER’s first-ever winding pack, the inner core of the massive Toroidal Field coils which will magnetically confine the hot plasma, the stage of resin...

Read more

S. Korea succeeds in mass production of nuclear fusion fuel

24-08-2016

S. Korea succeeds in mass production of nuclear fusion fuel

South Korea's state-run laboratory said Wednesday that it has successfully developed a technology for the mass production of tritium for nuclear fusion energy. The technology allows the annual production of more...

Read more

Using plasmas to create nanomaterials

19-07-2016

Using plasmas to create nanomaterials

Plasma—the hot ionized gas that fuels fusion reactions—can also create super-small particles used in everything from pharmaceuticals to tennis racquets. These nanoparticles, which measure billionths of a metre in size,...

Read more

Iran hopes to join project to produce nuclear fusion power

13-07-2016

Iran hopes to join project to produce nuclear fusion power

Iran is hoping to join an international project in southern France that aims to build the first machine to generate significant amounts of energy using nuclear fusion, which is considered...

Read more

Costa Rica makes nuclear fusion history with plasma discharge

04-07-2016

Costa Rica makes nuclear fusion history with plasma discharge

Researchers at the Technology Institute of Costa Rica (TEC) announced the first discharge of high temperature plasma in Latin America on 29 June 2016, joining an elite group of countries who have...

Read more

Developing tiny Big Brother cameras for ITER

14-06-2016

Developing tiny Big Brother cameras for ITER

Even though ITER will be the biggest fusion device, the efficient use of the remaining space inside its vessel, once all bulky high-tech components will be assembled, is expected to...

Read more

First component installed in Tokamak Complex

31-03-2016

First component installed in Tokamak Complex

Like a lunar module checking its landing coordinates one last time, the cylindrical tank with six metal feet hovered silently over the Tritium Building. The event was significant. Part of ITER's...

Read more

Ukraine moving towards European fusion research

20-01-2016

Ukraine moving towards European fusion research

In September, representatives from Euratom, the European Commission and EUROfusion paid a visit to Ukraine to start negotiations for an associate partnership on fusion research. The delegation visited Kyiv where...

Read more

The first plasma: the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is now in operation

14-12-2015

The first plasma: the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is now in operation

A successful start with helium plasma / hydrogen plasma to follow at the beginning of 2016. On 10th December 2015 the first helium plasma was produced in the Wendelstein 7-X fusion...

Read more

The Wendelstein 7-X fusion device before its first plasma

02-12-2015

The Wendelstein 7-X fusion device before its first plasma

Next week: start with helium plasma planned / hydrogen plasmas are to follow in 2016 With the generation of the first plasma the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is scheduled to go...

Read more

Breakthrough in superconducting materials opens new path to fusion

12-11-2015

Breakthrough in superconducting materials opens new path to fusion

In fusion reactor designs, superconductors (which suffer no resistive power loss) are used to generate the magnetic fields that confine the 100 million degree C plasma. While increasing magnetic field...

Read more

Fusion for Energy appoints Johannes Schwemmer as new Director

30-10-2015

Fusion for Energy appoints Johannes Schwemmer as new Director

Johannes Schwemmer has been appointed Executive Director of Fusion for Energy, the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy.  Joaquin Sánchez, Chair of the Fusion for Energy...

Read more

Europe delivers its first equipment to ITER

01-09-2015

Europe delivers its first equipment to ITER

The delivery of the first-ever European components to ITER has qualified as one of the key moments of the project carrying tremendous symbolic importance. It has been a turning point...

Read more

UW researchers working on novel nuclear fusion technique

30-06-2015

UW researchers working on novel nuclear fusion technique

Sustainable nuclear fusion has long been a dream for most scientists and energy experts alike. Clean, abundant, and economical, there have been many attempts to make it workable. Now, researchers...

Read more

Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion

10-06-2015

Nuclear physics: Pull together for fusion

ITER director-general Bernard Bigot explains how he will strengthen leadership and management to refocus the project's aim of harnessing nuclear fusion. Ten years ago this month, China, the European Union,...

Read more

Two transformers installed on the ITER site

02-06-2015

Two transformers installed on the ITER site

The transformers that have been designed by F4E, procured by the US Domestic Agency (DA) and manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industry, have reached the ITER site. Qualified as Heavy Exceptional...

Read more

Europe’s first-ever equipment arrives to ITER

07-05-2015

Europe’s first-ever equipment arrives to ITER

Europe, the biggest shareholder out of the seven parties contributing to ITER, the largest international scientific collaboration in the field of energy bringing together 80% of the global GDP and...

Read more

Europe and Japan celebrate achievement of important JT-60SA milestones

24-04-2015

Europe and Japan celebrate achievement of important JT-60SA milestones

The concurrent achievement of several important milestones of the JT-60SA project was celebrated by some 200 high-level European and Japanese guests at the JT-60SA project site in Naka, Japan, on...

Read more

Tough Questions for ITER's New Director General, Bernard Bigot

23-03-2015

Tough Questions for ITER's New Director General, Bernard Bigot

When ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, was launched in 1985, the plans called for a huge reactor that would demonstrate that the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium...

Read more

Bernard Bigot appointed as new ITER Director General

06-03-2015

Bernard Bigot appointed as new ITER Director General

At an Extraordinary Meeting held in Paris on 5 March 2015, the ITER Council appointed Dr Bernard Bigot as the next Director-General of the ITER Organization, succeeding Prof Osamu Motojima. Dr...

Read more
HiPER logo EUROfusion iter Laserlab Europe Fusenet

Search

Rada Główna Instytutów Badawczych

Research projects carried out at the IPPLM are funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the National Science Centre and by the European Commission within the framework of EUROfusion Consortium under grant agreement No 633053. Financial support comes also from the International Atomic Energy Agency, European Space Agency and LaserLab Consortium as well as from the Fusion for Energy Agency.