The A&CT Group works in the construction of large reactors in Italy, France and Japan
‘Trust in science, seizing opportunities, without living day to day’. This is the vision of the future embodied by Gino Cocchi, the founder of A&Ct (Aretè & Cocchi Technology), the Valsamoggia-based group that is now preparing to make a contribution to an important phase in the development of clean nuclear energy.
In fact, the small but solid multinational company has been awarded contracts worth €18 million in international projects for the construction of fusion reactors in Italy, France and Japan over a multi-year period. Two companies from A&Ct’s Science + division are involved: the Bologna-based Ocem Power Electronics and the Swiss company Ampegon, which was acquired in 2019. Ocem has just signed a contract worth around €8 million to design, manufacture and install the electronic protection systems for the main magnets of the new DTT fusion reactor which is under construction at the Enea Research Centre in Frascati.
Image: the fusion reactor under construction at the Enea Research Centre in Frascati.
Ocem and Ampegon will provide technical support and know-how to the Naka fusion reactor (the tokamak Jt-G60sa) and the Rokkasho accelerator in Japan for a total investment of €5 million. Finally, Ampegon is completing the last steps in the installation of eight plasma heating power systems in Cadarache. This last step, which is worth €5 million, will put an end to the €15.5 million, 35-nation Iter project signed nine years ago. This should lead to the construction of the first fusion totamak reactor, which will generate more energy than it absorbs. The fusion process requires very high temperatures, 150 million degrees – the temperature of the stars – and can generate helium, a non-radioactive inert gas. It is a safe, controllable process, emits no CO2 or other gases and produces no radioactive waste. This is why it is considered to be the new frontier of energy. And although its development will still require many years of research and work, Cocchi intends to make it a cornerstone of his entrepreneurial mission. ‘We need energy,’ underscored Cocchi, ‘renewables are welcome, but we need exponential growth. Over the next 20 years, electrical consumption is estimated to increase by 50 per cent. Either we consider nuclear power or change our lifestyles. We must not be ideologically prejudiced.’
Gino Cocchi. Let’s tackle today’s serious problems with research and growth. We aim to reach a turnover of 200 million in 2023 through a growth of 40 per cent in two years and a doubling compared to 2020. 50 new recruits are expected.
‘You have to rely on science,’ the entrepreneur insisted. Meanwhile, the A&CT group, with its 13 hi-tech companies (including packaging and airport facilities divisions) invests at least 10 per cent of its turnover into research and development. ‘There are very serious problems impacting the economy and people’s lives, including high energy prices, war and inflation,’ Cocchi admits, ‘but we want to respond by finding solutions and continuing our quest for growth until at least 2050. ‘New acquisitions are in the pipeline,’ he says, ‘and even though Covid has slowed things down sharply, we already have orders worth €180 million this year, despite having lost €20 million of orders in Russia and Ukraine. We are aiming to achieve a turnover of 200 million in 2023 thanks to 40 percent growth in two years and a doubling compared to 2020.’ There are also plans to hire 50 new staff, in addition to the 500 existing ones, which have been made available through active programmes with local universities.
Corriere di Bologna, 15 September 2022 – Luciana Cavina