Construction of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in southern France is in full swing as cost estimates balloon to nearly four times the original budget. Ben Gruber Reports.
STORY: Nuclear fusion has been hailed as a clean, ever-lasting source of energy for the planet. Unlike nuclear fission reactors which splits atoms to produce energy, a fusion reactor would mimic how the sun produces energy by combining atoms. So far scientists have only managed to create energy this way on a tiny scale. This site in southern France is home to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER, a multinational, multibillion euro project aimed at making large-scale nuclear fusion a reality. It was started 10 years ago with a budget of 5 billion euros and the aim to achieve full fusion by 2023. Project chief Bernard Bigot says ITER will cost 4 times the original estimate and probably won't achieve full fusion reaction until 2035. Some scientists believe it will never work, but Bigot says it's a gamble worth taking, because if successful, humans could mimic the power of the sun and radically change our world.