ITER is an international cooperative project established in 2006 to build the ITER thermonuclear experimental reactor in Cadarache, France. Ultimately, the aim of this infrastructure is to demonstrate the value of nuclear fusion for industrial-scale energy production and to develop the knowledge and technologies required for the subsequent construction of nuclear fusion power plants to produce electricity that is safe, sustainable and clean because it does not produce high-level and long-lasting radioactive waste. Switzerland indirectly participates in the construction of ITER as a member of the European Joint Undertaking Fusion for Energy.
As the continuation of the participation in Fusion for Energy in 2021-2027 is linked to the negotiations concerning the association of Switzerland to the Horizon Europe program, the European Digital Initiatives and the Euratom 2021-2025 program, the Swiss participation in ITER is currently suspended. Swiss companies and research institutions can only respond to the calls for tenders launched by Fusion for Energy and the ITER Organization if the required competencies are not available within the member countries of these organizations.
Initiated in 2007, the ITER project is being realised by the international ITER Organization, which brings together the EU ‒ the 27 EU member states plus Switzerland ‒ the USA, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and India. Under the ITER Treaty, the EU bears 45 per cent of the construction costs, with the other members each contributing 9 per cent of the resources. The vast majority of these contributions take the form of contributions in kind ‒ components developed by the member states and delivered to the ITER Organization via a domestic agency. The body responsible for the EU contribution is the European Joint Undertaking Fusion for Energy (F4E), which is based in Barcelona. Under the current planning schedule, scientific operation of ITER will begin in 2025 and, following several experimental cycles, the first decisive experiments will take place around 2035.
Cooperating closely since 1979 in the field of nuclear fusion with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), Switzerland chose to participate in ITER not as a direct member of the ITER Organization, but indirectly as a member of the European Joint Undertaking Fusion for Energy. It has been a full member since the organisation was set up in 2007, and actively participates in its governance and, by extension, in governance of the ITER project. Switzerland contributed CHF 274.5 million to the EU for this purpose between 2007 and 2020.
Switzerland's participation in ITER and Fusion for Energy falls under the remit of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. SERI is responsible for all matters relating to nuclear fusion research within the Federal Administration, and represents Switzerland on the Fusion Power Co-ordinating Committee, set up by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to monitor progress in fusion research globally. SERI works closely with EPFL's Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), which represents Switzerland in the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy (EUROfusion). The latter supports and funds Europe-wide fusion research activities on behalf of Euratom.
The construction of ITER generates substantial orders for Swiss businesses. The Swiss Industry Liaison Office is responsible for promoting links between Swiss companies and the organisations involved in the ITER project (ITER Organization, Fusion for Energy, etc.).
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (french) (PDF, 1 MB, 07.07.2016)Rapport de synthèse 2015
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 6 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2014
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 2 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2013
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 2 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2012
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 1 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2011
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 3 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2010
Programme de recherche Fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée (PDF, 1 MB, 07.08.2015)Rapport de synthèse 2008