ROME — The Italian state shipyard that supplies the country’s warships and builds littoral combat ships in the United States with Lockheed Martin has won a contract worth nearly €100 million (U.S. $111 million) to enter a new business — nuclear fusion.

Fincantieri won the deal to supply equipment for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, an international program seeking to build an experimental fusion reactor aimed at creating technology able to produce boundless amounts of clean energy.

Launched in 1985 by Russia and the U.S. as an example of Cold War detente, the ITER program now groups the European Union, China, India, Japan and South Korea with Russia and the U.S.

The program aims to turn nuclear fusion — which fuses atoms in the same way the sun does — into a viable and clean energy source. Based in Cadarache in the south of France, the partners are building a reactor they hope will lead to power generation seen as a holy grail of clean, unlimited energy.

Fincantieri will work on the program through its subsidiary Fincantieri SI, which provides hybrid ship propulsion and energy storage systems as well as works on emission reductions and the electrification of ports.

A company source told Defense News that Fincantieri SI will act as an integrator for two smaller Italian firms: Delta-Ti Impianti, which specializes in mechanical plant engineering, and Comes, which specializes in electrical plant engineering.

The equipment provided by those firms and integrated by Fincantieri SI at its facility in Italy will be used to heat and cool plasma as part of the fusion process, the source said.

Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono said the deal “reaffirms our capacity as integrator.”

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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