Cadarache, FranceITER Project
If we had to choose one geographical place to pin all of our hopes and dreams for a cleaner, more sustainable future on, Cadarache would surely be that spot.
In this town in the south of France, all of the world’s biggest players are working side by side on the most ambitious project in scientific history. There, they are building a miniature sun.
Before facing the world’s energy challenges, the first step is building the complex that will house ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. The buildings and facilities will house the tokamak, a 23,000-ton machine standing 60 meters high. It is made up of magnets and superconducting cables, and it can produce plasma, imitating the Sun’s process of nuclear fusion.
From a distance, the massive project is not hidden. It occupies 42 hectares in all, encompassing 39 buildings – seven of which Ferrovial has built. More than 2,000 employees already work at ITER, which expects to see its first results in 2025.
One of the major challenges of nuclear fusion is getting it to generate more energy than it uses. Hence, the importance of designing a high-voltage electrical network that can supply the energy needed to heat the plasma in the reactor and activate the cryogenization and cooling systems; this miniature sun will be in a controlled environment at -269º C (-452º F).
Oil and coal combustion must give way to an energy model with lower emissions. The future of our species must not be put at risk. Cadarache is home to a faint optimism, a hope for a future with clean, sustainable energy.