from the insert-tab-τ317.25α2'-into-slot-σ902.44β9' dept.
Fourteen years after receiving the official go-ahead, scientists on Tuesday began assembling a giant machine in southern France designed to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the process which powers the Sun, can be a safe and viable energy source on Earth.
The groundbreaking multinational experiment, known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), has seen components arrive in the tiny commune of Saint-Paul-les-Durance from production sites worldwide in recent months.
They will now be painstakingly put together to complete what is described by ITER as the "world's largest puzzle".
The experimental plant's goal is to demonstrate that fusion power can be generated sustainably, and safely, on a commercial scale, with initial experiments set to begin in December 2025.
[...] Some 2,300 people are at work on site to put the massive machine together.
"Constructing the machine piece by piece will be like assembling a three-dimensional puzzle on an intricate timeline," said ITER's director general Bernard Bigot.
"Every aspect of project management, systems engineering, risk management and logistics of the machine assembly must perform together with the precision of a Swiss watch," he said, adding: "We have a complicated script to follow over the next few years."
[...] It could reach full power by 2035, but as an experimental project, it is not designed to produce electricity.
If the technology proves feasible, future fusion reactors would be capable of powering two million homes each at an operational cost comparable to those of conventional nuclear reactors, Bigot said.
[...] The ITER project is running five years behind schedule and has seen its initial budget triple to some 20 billion euros (US$23.4 billion).