France to pitch for experimental fusion power plant
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin saidFrance would offer a site in Cadarache, just north of Marseille, for the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) research project to build the fusion power plant worth $30 billion.
France's bid to house the plant comes a day after President George W. Bush said the United States would join the ITER project, which is aimed at harnessing the power of fusion - the energy source that powers the sun.
Britain, other European Union countries, Russia, China, Japan and Canada are already working together on the project, which is distinct from ordinary fission reactors as it aims to produce a clean and safe source of energy using fusion.
"If we succeed, this is the solution to all our problems and we'll no longer need to go to war in Iraq," a source close to the project said, adding that it would be conducted over 40-50 years.
Bush said last week he hoped safe, renewable fusion energy could be commercially available by the middle of the century.
France is one of the few countries to have shifted away from oil for its energy needs. The world's second-largest nuclear power producer after the United States, it has the highest concentration of nuclear power production, which covers 80 percent of its output.
Fusion occurs in the sun when the intense heat and pressure within the sun's core cause light atoms to collide and fuse together. This creates heavier atoms and releases energy.