By Eloi Rouyer Eloi Rouyer – Mon Jul 26, 7:09 am ET
MARSEILLE, France (AFP) – An explosion in costs has cast a cloud over a multi-billion-dollar nuclear fusion project aiming to make the power that fuels the Sun a practical energy source on Earth.
Delays, rocketing costs and financing problems have hit the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) whose consortium members start a meeting on Tuesday aiming to get the project back on course.
ITER was set up by the European Union, which has a 45-percent share, China, India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States to research a clean and limitless alternative to dwindling fossil fuel reserves by testing nuclear fusion.
Work is to start at the test reactor site at Cadarache in southern France next month, but the cost now worries many members.
The total estimated bill for the EU, the main backer, has doubled to 7.2 billion euros (9.2 billion dollars), with the overall cost now reckoned to be around 15 billion euros.
The meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday in Cadarche of ITER's council members marks the start of the construction phase and comes after the EU pledged to pump in extra funds to keep the project going.
The European Commission, the EU executive arm, this month offered to fork out an extra 1.4 billion euros to fulfil Europe's commitment to the project, but this needs the approval of EU member states.
ITER's administrative headquarters and two buildings housing equipment will be the first to be started. …
Monday, July 26, 2010
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