ITER awards SPIE the maintenance contract for its buildings and infrastructure for the next four years

Published on 19 February 2019

Cadarache, February 19, 2019 – French subsidiaries of the SPIE Group, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, SPIE Nucléaire and SPIE Facilities have just been awarded the multi-technical maintenance contract for the ITER site at Cadarache (Bouches-du-Rhône). Result of an unprecedented collaboration between major world powers (*), this first reactor designed to explore nuclear fusion as a carbon-free energy source represents a major challenge for electricity production.

Two-fold expertise for a future project

SPIE Nucléaire and SPIE Facilities, two subsidiaries of SPIE France, have joined forces via a consortium (consortium representative: SPIE Nucléaire) to provide multi-technical maintenance for all the equipment and buildings at the ITER site. Concluded at the end of September 2018 for a period of four years and renewable for one year, the operational phase of the contract began on 1 December 2018. Some twenty SPIE employees are involved, working on all the building types (nuclear, tertiary, industrial) and on numerous items of equipment. The contract relates to: centralised technical management of the buildings’ automated systems, electrical installations, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, fluid networks, lifts, overhead cranes or handling equipment, equipment related to the structure of the buildings (woodwork, fire prevention means, etc.) and fire safety. From the first year of the contract, SPIE will be responsible for the management of around 20 buildings, with around another twenty buildings to be added by 2022. This equates to a doubling of the area of the operational zones in four years: 60,000 m2 at present, compared with 115,000 m2 at the end of the contract.

A wide range of technical skills for a rapidly developing site

To provide all the maintenance services and manage the subcontracted operations, the SPIE teams require a diverse range of skills.

“Beyond our respective expertise in nuclear and tertiary maintenance, we have been able to deal with issues specific to the site’s buildings as a whole, which are varied in nature” explains Mathieu Delauney, business manager at SPIE Nucléaire. Domingos Barbosa, South-East operations director at SPIE Facilities, adds: “SPIE was selected by the ITER Organization through an international call for tenders, with particular attention to the ability to meet the technical and organisational challenges of maintaining the infrastructure of a fast-changing site.”

To adapt to the international environment of the site, all the technicians and supervisors must communicate in French and English. Other key elements in the fulfilment of SPIE’s duties: preparation and taking of safety into account in the management of the contract. Specific authorisations, industrial-type organisation combining a multi-technical operational team and a process planning department, traceability of operations carried out and close monitoring are all necessary prerequisites for operating on the ITER site.

The ITER programme is now entering the assembly phase of the Tokamak (**) and its auxiliary systems in order to produce a first plasma in 2025 and enter the nuclear exploitation phase (deuterium/tritium plasmas) in 2035.

(*) Including China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.

(**) An important step in the creation of a fusion reactor, the tokamak is an experimental machine designed to study the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. ITER will be the largest installation of this type in the world, with a plasma radius of 6.2 metres and a plasma volume of 840 cubic metres.