Monday

16th May 2022

Germany 'not satisfied' with nuclear fusion spending

Germany has said it is unhappy with the "exorbitant" cost of the EU's international nuclear fusion project, Iter EU, and called for more transparency on spending.

"The bigger a science project is - and in Iter, Europe is not the only member - the more complicate its governance. Iter is exorbitant," Annette Schavan, Germany's education and research minister told journalists on Tuesday (10 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • A detailed cutaway of the Iter, with hot plasma, in pink, in the centre. (Photo: ITER)

Schavan said that Berlin last year demanded a special taskforce to investigate the governance of the France-based nuclear fusion project, which aims to generate energy from fusing atoms, instead of splitting them as it is the case with the current nuclear technology (fission).

Apart from the EU - carrying the brunt of the cost (45 percent), the mega-project includes Russia, China, the US, India, Japan and South Korea contributing with nine percent of the cost, expected to reach over €15 billion. Supporters of the project say it will deliver to the world an essentially endless supply of cheap energy.

But the cost has tripled from its initial estimate in 2005, with Schavan noting that "science has a tendency to encourage politics to ask for more money."

"It is good for Europe to be present in such a project and Germany still supports it, but we need more transparency in its governance, more financial discipline. I am not satisfied today, one year later after the taskforce was put in place," she said.

The European Parliament last year refused to approve a proposal by the European Commission to reallocate €1.3 billion from the Union's unspent budget to cover a financing shortfall for the project.

The commission has re-cast its bid for the 2012 budget, pointing out that this is an international commitment the bloc cannot abandon and that construction is set to begin next year. A first debate in the parliament in April had Greens protesting against the project and pointing out that it is to be built in a seismic area, recalling the disaster of Fukushima, a nuclear fission plant.

Iter maintains that no comparisons can be made, since the technology is fundamentally different.

Yet radioactive materials will still be produced if the researchers manage to secure a safe reactor for the high-power reaction to take place.

Sebastien Balibar, a leading French nuclear physicist, has cast doubts that the EU-funded project will ever come into being: "We say that we will put the sun into a box. The idea is pretty. The problem is, we don't know how to make the box," he told the Wisconsin Scientist in 2006.

Optimism in Bonn about fusion reactor, despite Brexit

Brexit 'may have significant effect' on nuclear fusion research project, say EU auditors, but scientist involved says it is a question of 'when' not 'if' fusion power is scaled up commercially.

EU reaches deal on flagship cybersecurity law

The European Parliament and EU member states have reached an agreement over new rules intended to protect Europe's public and private critical entities from cyberattacks.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

Stakeholder

The CPDP conference wants multidisciplinary digital future

During the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference, many high-level discussions will touch upon the dynamics of decision-making in the design of new technologies, including the importance of inclusion, diversity, and ethics perspectives within these processes.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

News in Brief

  1. German ruling party in regional election blow
  2. EU expanding arms-for-Ukraine programme
  3. Reports: EU drafts plans for Russia energy payments
  4. Pro-Russian hackers targeted Eurovision
  5. EU to donate extra €400m for Africa vaccines rollout
  6. Spain plans five-days 'menstrual leave' and to ease abortion rules
  7. MEPs reject proposal for stricter 2030 target on cars and vans
  8. Study: EU spent €341m on AI border technology

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  3. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  4. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersHuge support for Ukraine
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBWorkers want EC to limit subcontracting chains in construction

Latest News

  1. Sweden to join Finland in applying for Nato
  2. Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK
  3. Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?
  4. EU reaches deal on flagship cybersecurity law
  5. EU to help Ukraine export grain — amid food shortages fears
  6. Revealed: Big Oil shaped EU's gas-cutting strategy
  7. EU: Ukrainians hesitating to register for protection
  8. UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us