Feeds

Fusion reactor eats Euro science budgets

Small catastrophe predicted

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More than a billion euros will be channeled to the astronomically over-budget ITER fusion reactor rather than to a broad range of needy European research projects.

"This will not make us friends," one senior fusion boffin, who declined to be identified, confessed to Nature, which reported the research-funding switcheroo.

The ITER project, which has the goal of (someday) fusing hydrogen isotopes to create (possibly affordable) energy, has been beset by budget horrors since its inception in 2006.

According to Nature, the south-of-France reactor was originally projected to cost €5bn (£4.2bn, $6.3bn), a figure that seems laughably understated today. Nature cites "unoffical estimates" that put the true projected cost to be in the neighborhood of €15bn (£12.6bn, $18.9bn).

The most pressing financial need is $1.4bn (£800m, $1.8bn) needed for the 2012-2013 construction budget. That money has to come from somewhere, in the opinion of Achilleas Mitsos, former EC director-general for research. "Europe cannot afford not to go forward with the project," he told Nature, citing heavy political and financial ramifications if ITER is cancelled.

And the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will come to the rescue, even though the EC has said that diverting FP7 funds would have "a significantly negative effect on a range of policies and programmes".

The EC asked its member states to fork up more cash to help bail out ITER, but in these days of austerity, that was a non-starter. And so it appears that FP7 funds will almost certainly be used to keep the Big Science ITER beast fed.

"I think it's a small catastrophe in the present situation," European Research Council president Helga Nowotny told Nature about the diversion of funds. "It's bad for European research." ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.