2
Evaluation of the Current DOE Plan for U.S. Plasma Science Community Participation in ITER

ASSESSMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND PLANNING OF THE U.S. ITER EFFORT

The Department of Energy (DOE) plan1 provides defined structures for organizing the participation of U.S. researchers in ITER research during the construction phase, and a phased U.S. research agenda for ITER. The plan also identifies mechanisms for adapting and advancing the plan as ITER develops (see Figures 2.1 and 2.2). In the period since August 2006 when the plan was submitted to Congress, the structures and mechanisms that it describes have been established and are operating. In addition, the ITER agreement came into force, the international ITER Organization was established, and an international technical review of the ITER design was conducted.

The DOE plan provides effective mechanisms and guidance for supporting U.S. participation in ITER research, addressing the U.S. research agenda. The plan has been elaborated and built upon in subsequent planning processes, including the ongoing Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) strategic planning and U.S. participation in ITER Organization (IO) research planning.

1

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006. Available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/News/EPAct_final_June06.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008.



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2 Evaluation of the Current DOE Plan for U.S. Plasma Science Community Participation in ITER ASSESSMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND PLANNING OF THE U.S. ITER EFFORT The Department of Energy (DOE) plan1 provides defined structures for organizing the participation of U.S. researchers in ITER research dur­ ing the construction phase, and a phased U.S. research agenda for ITER. The plan also identifies mechanisms for adapting and advancing the plan as ITER develops (see Figures 2.1 and 2.2). In the period since August 2006 when the plan was submitted to Congress, the structures and mechanisms that it describes have been established and are operating. In addition, the ITER agreement came into force, the international ITER Organization was established, and an international technical review of the ITER design was conducted. The DOE plan provides effective mechanisms and guidance for sup­ porting U.S. participation in ITER research, addressing the U.S. research agenda. The plan has been elaborated and built upon in subsequent plan­ ning processes, including the ongoing Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) strategic planning and U.S. participation in ITER Organization (IO) research planning. 1 U.S.Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006. Available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/News/EPAct_ final_June06.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008. 

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER FIGURE 2.1 The revised ITER project schedule, approved by the ITER Council for planning purposes in June 2008. SOURCE: ITER Organization. Copyright by the ITER Organization. Reprinted by permission. FIGURE 2.2 The current schedule of the ITER Operation Program. SOURCE: ITER Organization. Copyright by the ITER Organization. Reprinted by permission.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN Key Structural Elements of U.S. Participation in ITER The key structural elements of the U.S. participation in ITER are the U.S. ITER Project Office (USIPO), the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization (USBPO), the Virtual Laboratory for Technology (VLT), the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA), and the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES), as shown in Figures 2.3 and 2.4. The USIPO, the domestic project office responsible for the U.S. contributions to ITER construction, supports U.S. research and development (R&D) needed for ITER con­ struction. The USBPO is the recently formed (2005) organization for coor­ dinating and advocating scientific research activities in support of ITER and preparing for exploitation of ITER. OFES coordinates the activities of the USIPO, USBPO, and VLT to effectively interface with the IO. The VLT is the U.S. organization responsible for directing and coordinating engineering science and technology activities in support of ITER, includ­ ing a large number of ITER R&D tasks. The director of the USBPO and the director of the VLT are the chief scientist and the chief technologist for the USIPO, respectively, ensuring close coupling of all three organizations and coupling of ITER to the U.S. scientific and engineering communities. The ITPA has been the primary international scientific coordinating body for voluntary support of ITER, identifying critical issues and facilitating joint experiments across the ITER partners. U.S. members of the ITPA are members of the USBPO, helping to ensure good communication and interaction among these groups. The ITPA, which provides a direct con­ nection between the worldwide science communities and the IO, will soon come under the auspices of the IO. The ITPA may be viewed as the ITER Organization DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences US Burning Virtual Laboratory ITPA US ITER Project Office Plasma Organization for Technology Chief Scientist Chief Technologist (USBPO Director) (VLT Director) FIGURE 2.3 Major U.S. activities of the U.S. ITER effort and how they are orga­ nized. ITPA is the International Tokamak Physics Activity. 2-3

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER US ITER Project Office FIGURE 2.4 Overall organization of the ITER project. SOURCE: Courtesy of the ITER Organization. 2.4 mostl bitmapped precursor of the international research team for ITER exploitation. Simi­ larly, the USBPO may be the precursor to the U.S. ITER research team or users group. The USBPO is the key organization for participating in ITER research in the United States. It is an open organization with 289 members (as of December 2007) across the entire U.S. fusion community. The USBPO is organized into 10 research groups focused on high­priority topical areas. The group leaders meet biweekly, via videoconferencing, to coordinate, prioritize, and organize tasks on burning plasmas, focusing on ITER. The USBPO is led by a director and an assistant director, advised by a 14­mem­ ber council elected from the research community. Strong leadership of the USBPO and its topical groups is key to its effectiveness. An example of this is its role in the recent international ITER design review. The USBPO topical groups identified and documented high­priority design issues, developed an objective prioritization system, and submitted the issues to the IO for consideration. The IO formed eight design review working groups, including U.S. members, to consider all the issues submitted.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN Some of the issues required significant research and investigation. The USBPO, working with the members of the design review working groups, leaders of U.S. programs, the USIPO, and the OFES, identified U.S. per­ formers for specific work packages for the review. The USBPO coordinated and completed a number of these tasks, and it prepared documentation and informative debriefings for the U.S. members of the design review working groups and the IO Management and Science and Technology Advisory Committees (both of which advise the ITER Council). Due to the effectiveness of the USBPO and other elements of the DOE plan for par­ ticipating in ITER, the United States was the first ITER partner to identify performers and propose specific tasks for the United States in the design review process, ensuring that ITER would continue to be able to address the U.S. research agenda. The United States contributed 21 percent of the scientific personnel effort devoted to completing the design review tasks, even though the United States will contribute 9 percent of the construc­ tion contributions of ITER. In addition, the IO formed an international working group to develop detailed plans for the ITER plasma commissioning and operation phases. It has established the international scientific framework and program for ITER exploitation. This includes identification of needed research devel­ opments, such as an improved comprehensive modeling capability. The USBPO is coordinating U.S. participation in this group, ensuring good communication with the U.S. research community and recognition of the U.S. research agenda. The IO plans developed by this group also provide the structure for more detailed planning of U.S. activities on ITER in the coming years. Finding: The committee finds that the 2006 Department of Energy plan for U.S. participation in ITER is operating and has proven effective in beginning to coordinate U.S. research activities and the development of the ITER program. Finding: U.S. scientists have been well engaged in the planning for ITER, and the United States should endeavor to maintain this level of activity. Comparison to Analogous Efforts of Other ITER Partners The committee believes that it is instructive to use the organizational efforts of the other ITER members as a benchmark against which to assess U.S. progress. The committee is able to comment only on the relationship of the U.S. program to the EU and Japanese research programs, which were presented in detail during its deliberations.

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER Overall, the U.S. international partners in ITER are explicitly orga­ nized toward developing fusion energy and a Demonstration Power Plant (DEMO). This focus gives them a clear goal for their develop­ ment of fusion power. Also of note is the much larger funding profile for fusion energy research in the EU and Japan, which allows them to pursue the energy goal more aggressively. In spite of the funding dif­ ferences, the present U.S. research plans for ITER are as mature as those of the other partners, and foreign partners even noted their interest in emulating the U.S. organizational structure for U.S. participation in ITER (see Figure 2.3). It is unclear at this time, however, how the elimination of funding for the U.S. first­year contributions to ITER will affect the U.S. fusion community’s ability to keep its research plan abreast of the plans of its foreign colleagues. Strong integration of the U.S. domestic research activities with the IO, through the USIPO, is facilitated by the USBPO director holding a simultaneous appointment as the U.S. ITER chief scientist within the U.S. ITER Project Office. The EU and Japanese representatives noted this arrangement as a particular strength of U.S. organization. Finding: The committee finds that the U.S. ITER research program is at least as organizationally and technically mature as that of the other ITER participants at the time of this writing.2 ASSESSMENT OF THE U.S. RESEARCH AGENDA AT ITER The research agenda at ITER that is detailed in the DOE plan addresses four overarching questions: • How does the large size of the plasma required for a fusion power plant affect its confinement, stability, and energy dissipation proper­ ties? (large­confinement­scale physics) • Can a self­heated fusion plasma be created, controlled, and sustained? (burning plasma state) • Can the tokamak confinement concept be extended to the continu­ ous, self­sustaining regime required for future power plants? (toward steady­state burning plasma) • What materials and components are suitable for the plasma contain­ ment vessel and its surrounding structures in a fusion power plant? (fusion technology)3 2As of April 8, 2008. 3 U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006, p. 7. Available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/News/ EPAct_final_June06.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN The plan details six major fusion science and technology campaigns that will be undertaken to address the four questions: 1. Integrated burning plasma science, 2. Macroscopic plasma physics, 3. Waves and energetic particles, 4. Multi­scale transport physics, 5. Plasma­boundary interfaces, and Fusion engineering science.4 6. Figure 2.5 from the DOE plan presents an agenda and timeline for U.S. research and divides ITER operation into six phases: 1. Design support; 2. Pre­operations; 3. Commissioning and initial H and D operations; 4. High­gain D­T operations; 5. Modest­gain D­T, long­pulse, non­inductive operation; and 6. Fusion technology tests. The DOE plan sufficiently explains the rationale for these research themes and how they address each research question. The plan also pro­ poses a sequence of steps that organizes the campaigns according to the phases of ITER operation. The sequence includes the design support and pre­operations phases, which will comprise the majority of U.S. research activity in ITER over the next decade. It is important to note that to fully reap the results possible with ITER and achieve DOE’s goals, the United States will have to continue to participate in ITER throughout the project’s operational lifetime. The steps that the plan outlines, if achieved, would lead to fulfillment of the U.S. ITER research program objectives. It is clear that the schedule for and approach of the U.S. research plan’s science campaigns will evolve because that plan is intrinsically tied to the developing international ITER research plan, as well as to evolving domestic organizational efforts. Despite this evolution, the committee expects the four overarching research questions to remain the focus of the U.S. research agenda, given their applicability to the goals central to the ITER project itself. A cohesive, international research plan for ITER will emerge in the future, as expected for a large international scientific project. International collaboration will be critical to the development of this research plan, and hence to the success of ITER. At the present time, it is expected that 4 Ibid.

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 2.5 Broadside FIGURE 2.5 Anticipated U.S. ITER research agenda and timeline from the DOE plan. SOURCE: U.S. Burning Plasma Organiza­ Bitmapped tion, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006, p. 15. Courtesy of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN ITER experiments will be carried out by international teams, and so it is critical that U.S. scientists are strongly engaged in this planning process. The scientific gain reaped by the United States will depend on the ability of the nation to participate. In a nascent effort undertaken through the ITER design review, the United States has had strong participation and a significant influence. This strong participation should continue. Finding: The committee finds that the U.S. research program for ITER as described in the DOE plan is appropriate and justified, and the committee notes that the domestic program will evolve as the international research program is developed. U.S. involvement in developing the research program for ITER will be crucial to the realization of U.S. fusion research goals. Alignment with DOE/OFES Goals and Previous NRC and FESAC Advice The overarching goal of OFES is to “[a]nswer the key scientific ques­ tions and overcome enormous technical challenges to harness the power that fuels a star, realizing by the middle of this century a landmark sci­ entific achievement by bringing ‘fusion power to the grid.’”5 ITER is a central part of the DOE/OFES program and is consistent with its stated mission of developing the knowledge base needed for an economically and environmentally attractive fusion energy source. Earlier FESAC and National Research Council (NRC) advice strongly supported including ITER in the overall OFES program.6,7 In particular, the committee notes the NRC Burning Plasma report’s recommendation that “[t]he United States should participate in a burning plasma experi­ ment.”8 ITER will address this recommendation by sustaining the hot plasma mostly through its own fusion reactions. Finding: The committee finds that the DOE plan for U.S. fusion community participation in ITER, in its current form, is well aligned with DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences goals. 5 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science Strategic Plan, Washington, D.C., February 2004, p. 45. 6 Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, Washington, D.C., March 2003. Available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/more_html/ fesac/devreport.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008. 7 National Research Council, Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth, The National Acad­ emies Press, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 4. 8 Ibid.

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0 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER Areas of Concern The committee is concerned that the lack of funding stability will make it difficult for the United States to participate effectively in ITER, and ultimately, to have access to and thus benefit from the valuable sci­ entific and technical knowledge to be gained from the facility. ITER is the most globally participatory science project in history, and it represents a significant step forward in the worldwide effort to develop commercially viable fusion power. But funding issues threaten to keep the United States from being a participant in this important endeavor and thus threaten the U.S. ability to capitalize on advances made at ITER. Such issues also potentially impair the U.S. ability to participate effectively in and benefit from future fusion projects that will bring commercial fusion power closer to reality. It would be a tremendous loss if the United States were unable to participate in ITER, and would severely limit the DOE/OFES ability to achieve its overarching goal. The committee notes the wise decisions taken by DOE to keep the United States engaged, to the extent possible, in the ITER project despite budget difficulties. As the IO develops its full functionalities it will be imperative that the United States establish itself as a stable and par­ ticipatory partner in order to accomplish the goals set forth by DOE, Congress, the President, and the plasma science community. The com­ mittee is concerned, however, about the ramifications that the FY2008 appropriations will have on continued progress in developing a U.S. plan for participation in the ITER project, as well as on the establishment of robust participation by U.S. scientists in the ITER research effort. As stated above, the FY2008 budget does not allocate funds to ITER as planned. Such unexpected, dramatic oscillations in commitment not only adversely affect U.S. national standing among its peers in the ITER project, but also deleteriously weaken the efficacy of careful planning that other­ wise would ensure balance across the nation’s broad scientific enterprise. Stable and predictable funding has been recommended in numerous NRC and FESAC reports, and this committee endorses the sapience of those recommendations.9 Failure of the United States to meet its obligations 9 See National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007; National Research Council, Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007; National Research Council, Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2004; Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Review of the Strategic Plan for International Collaboration on Fusion Science and Technology Research, Washington, D.C., January 23, 1998; and Fusion Energy Sci­ ences Advisory Committee, Report of the Panel on Criteria, Goals, and Metrics, Washington, D.C., October 8, 1999.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN from the outset of the ITER project will also jeopardize other countries’ willingness to collaborate with the United States in future major scientific projects, possibly including a DEMO reactor. If the participation of U.S. scientists at ITER is a congressional priority, the stability of U.S. contribu­ tions to the project has to be ensured. Finding: The committee underscores as its greatest concern the uncertain U.S. commitment to ITER at the present time. Fluctua- tions in the U.S. commitment to ITER will undoubtedly have a large negative impact on the ability of the U.S. fusion community to influence the developing ITER research program, to capitalize on research at ITER to help achieve U.S. fusion energy goals, to partici- pate in obtaining important scientific results on burning plasmas from ITER, and to be an effective participant in and beneficiary of future international scientific collaborations. Recommendation: The Department of Energy should take steps to seek greater U.S. funding stability for the international ITER project to ensure that the United States remains able to influence the developing ITER research program, to capitalize on research at ITER to help achieve U.S. fusion energy goals, to participate in obtaining important scientific results on burning plasmas from ITER, and to be an effective participant in and beneficiary of future international scientific collaborations. Other areas of concern are noted below: • Gaps in the DOE plan in the planning to DEMO. The fusion com­ munity has recently started to address issues of evolving the domestic research program. The FESAC report, Priorities, Gaps, and Opportunities: Towards a Long-Range Strategic Plan for Magnetic Fusion Energy,10 reiterates requirements for a vital and forward­looking domestic research program to exploit knowledge gained in ITER through international cooperation, and it suggests initiatives to bridge knowledge gaps to DEMO. A recent NRC report, Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest, recommended the formulation and periodic updating of a 15­year stra­ tegic plan for burning plasma research, which this committee endorses. As described in Plasma Science, this plan would address several issues 10 Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Priorities, Gaps, and Opportunities: Towards a Long-Range Strategic Plan for Magnetic Fusion Energy, Washington, D.C., 2007. Available at http://www.sc.doe.gov/ofes/FESAC/Oct­2007/FESAC_Planning_Report.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008.

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER facing the U.S. magnetic fusion energy effort, in particular “the growing gap between the newer, more capable intermediate­scale facilities being built abroad and the aging U.S. facilities.”11 It will be difficult to carry out exploratory research on ITER or investigate opportunistic scenarios that may develop in the course of ITER’s operational lifetime without an underpinning of smaller tokamaks within the United States and abroad. Moreover, the U.S. fusion workforce will benefit from the training that operating such devices will provide. The strategic plan would enable the United States to maintain synergy with research coming out of ITER throughout its long operational lifetime, and thus allow the United States to contribute to and follow through on ITER research. Additionally, the DOE plan for participation in ITER will need to make clear what operational capabilities will be required of domestic facilities to support ITER if the plan for ITER is to remain syn­ chronized with the 15­year U.S. strategic plan. • No discussion in the DOE plan of dissemination of ITER research activi- ties to the broader scientific community. Responsibility for the important role of educating the public about ITER’s mission should also be made clear. The committee notes recent efforts that begin to address these issues, such as presentations at the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The DOE plan will need to formulate effec­ tive strategies to establish standing lines of communication within the fusion sciences and with other disciplines, as well as with scientists and engineers in universities and industry. Although the scientific isolation of the magnetic fusion community is decreasing, much can still be done to broaden the reach of research results in the field.12 • No formulation or consideration in the DOE plan of a comprehensive plan for the recruitment and training of young fusion scientists and engineers. A related concern is the need for training of young scientists in other core disciplines, such as nuclear engineering, necessary for burning plasmas. Past NRC and FESAC studies have voiced similar concerns,13 and DOE has taken some steps toward addressing this issue. The European Union has begun to formally implement a program to address this issue as it 11 National Research Council, Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007, p. 151. 12 Ibid., p. 150. 13 Ibid., p. 151; National Research Council, Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 7; Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Fusion in the Era of Burning Plasma Studies: Workforce Planning for 00-0, Washington, D.C., March 29, 2004; U.S. Department of Energy, Letter from Associate Director Anne Davies to FESAC Chair Dr. Richard D. Hazeltine, October 21, 2004; and National Research Council, An Assessment of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences Program, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007, p. 76.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN develops its strategy to harness fusion energy.14 The expected success of ITER in the next decade, the aging of the fusion energy workforce, and the continued workforce concerns of the U.S. and European fusion communities all dictate that consideration be given to maintaining and strengthening the U.S. workforce. Recommendation: Important considerations that are not reflected in the current DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER should be addressed during the further development of the DOE plan. These considerations include: • Existing gaps in planning for a Demonstration Power Plant, • Dissemination of information on and the results of ITER research activities to the broader scientific community, and • Planning for the recruitment and training of young scientists and engineers. ASSESSMENT OF METHODOLOGIES TO EVALUATE ITER’S CONTRIBUTION TO PROGRESS TOWARD A POWER SOURCE Two criteria for measuring ITER’s contribution to progress toward a power source have been emphasized in the DOE plan: the achievement of predictive scientific understanding, and the achievement of plasma performance characteristics for a safe, reliable, and affordable power source. From the DOE plan:15 The focus of the U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences program is the devel­ opment of a predictive understanding of the fusion plasma system to support moving beyond ITER. A metric for progress in scientific under­ standing is whether the specific goals that collectively define the research agenda discussed above are achieved in the expected time frames. The level of agreement among theory, simulation, and experiment measures progress toward these goals. Another measure of scientific progress is the ability to use that knowledge to extend plasma performance toward that needed for fusion power. The ultimate measure of progress in scientific understanding, however, is obtained through periodic peer review of the research activities performed. 14 European Atomic Energy Community, “Seventh Framework Programme of the Euro­ pean Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for Nuclear Research and Training Activities (2007 to 2011),” European Union, 2006. 15 U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006, p. iii. Available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/News/ EPAct_final_June06.pdf, last viewed July 22, 2008.

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER Plasma performance metrics are derived from specific technical goals on ITER and fusion power plant studies that have identified the major scientific and technological goals for an attractive fusion power plant. They include issues such as fusion power, fusion power gain, plasma pressure, power density, power dissipation, and neutron wall loading. Comparison of these parameters achieved in ITER to those required for a conceptual demonstration power plant provides an array of objective measures of the progress toward fusion power. Metrics for both scientific progress and plasma performance are necessary and are mutually supportive: progress toward increasing fusion performance will likely be possible only through progress in predictive scientific understanding, and conversely, refinement of scientific under­ standing will emerge when predictions are compared to actual measure­ ments on a burning plasma. The history of the fusion program shows the value of both types of metrics. Periodic peer review to measure scientific and performance progress will be important. Finding: The committee finds that the DOE plan for U.S. participa- tion in ITER includes well-thought-out metrics for measuring prog- ress toward development of fusion energy as a power source. RELATIONSHIP OF THE U.S. FUSION PROGRAM TO THE U.S. ITER RESEARCH PROGRAM The committee considered the relationship of the domestic U.S. fusion program to the U.S. ITER research program. Considerable effort has been spent in structuring the domestic research program to be as relevant as possible to anticipated ITER operating scenarios, which serves the dual purpose of maintaining a trained workforce and maximizing U.S. ability to contribute to the planning and achievement of ITER’s scientific goals. The committee underscores the importance of maintaining a vigorous domestic fusion research program. The committee agrees with the following relevant statement from the NRC Burning Plasma report: “A strategically balanced U.S. fusion program should be developed that includes U.S. participation in ITER, a strong domestic fusion science and technology portfolio, an integrated theory and simulation program, and support for plasma science. As the ITER project develops, a substantial augmentation in fusion science pro­ gram funding will be required in addition to the direct financial commit­ ment to ITER construction.”16 The strong U.S. participation in the ITER 16 National Research Council, Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth, The National Acad­ emies Press, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 6.

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 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT DOE PLAN design review demonstrates the importance of a vibrant base program, including personnel and facilities, that can engage in the scientific issues to be explored at ITER. It is critical that these domestic capabilities be maintained. The overall strategy of the domestic program currently is to develop a predictive understanding of the plasma science associated with magnetically confined plasmas, which the committee believed to be very appropriate to the long­term health of the U.S. fusion program, and specifically to its involvement in the ITER project. The ability to carry out detailed experimental studies of relevant plasma scenarios coupled with theory/simulation provides the framework for progress in this predictive ability, which is best accomplished with a vigorous domestic research pro­ gram. Longer­term research efforts may well be directed toward reactor design, alternative approaches to magnetic confinement, and materials development in accord with DOE’s strategic plan. However, each of these research areas needs to be based on improved predictive capability. Finding: Consistent with previous National Research Council and Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee reports, the commit- tee emphasizes that a vigorous and strategically balanced domestic program is required to ensure that U.S. participation in ITER is successful and valuable for the U.S. fusion program.