National Academies Press: OpenBook

Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research (2019)

Chapter: Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018

« Previous: Appendix B: Agendas from Committee Meetings and Site Visits
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

C

Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018

This appendix provides background to various strategic planning activities for the U.S. burning plasma research effort, beginning with the 2001 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC), Review of Burning Plasma Physics,1 to the 2015 strategic planning perspective provided to Congress by the DOE Office of Science in response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.2 Background to U.S. fusion strategic planning is also available in Appendix D from the “Fusion Community Recommendations” of the 2004 National Research Council (NRC) report Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth3 and in Chapter 1 of the committee’s interim report, which is reprinted in Appendix I.

The following background to U.S. strategic planning activities is organized into three parts: (1) achievement of government consensus to join the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), (2) U.S. planning during the ITER design review and start of construction, and (3) management reforms and the updated ITER cost and schedule.

ACHIEVEMENT OF GOVERNMENT CONSENSUS TO JOIN ITER

In October 2000, Mildred Dresselhaus, Director of the Office of Science requested FESAC address the scientific issues of burning plasma physics. In her letter, Dresselhaus noted the U.S. magnetic fusion community has recognized burning plasma physics as the next frontier of fusion research and quoted the recommendation of the 1990 Fusion Policy Advisory Committee for “construction as

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

soon as possible of the U.S. Burning Plasma Facility.” In addition to reporting the scientific issues to be addressed by a burning plasma physics experiment, FESAC was charged to address how the U.S. program should be used to assist the community in preparations for an assessment in 2004, as recommended in the 1999 FESAC Panel on Priorities and Balance.4

The main conclusion of the 2001 FESAC report5 was as follows:

The U.S. fusion program, and indeed the world fusion program, is technically and scientifically ready to proceed NOW with a burning plasma experiment. This is the logical next step on the path to fusion energy. The key physics and engineering questions have been known since the mid 1980’s. They have been investigated theoretically during the interim period. They have been investigated on existing experiments, although often one at a time or in reduced performance regimes because of experimental limitations. Further progress requires a new, large scale burning plasma experiment. Thus, the key question is not “Are we ready?” but instead “How should we proceed?”

The 2001 FESAC report further said that (1) a workshop should be held for the scientific and technological examination of proposed burning plasma experimental designs and to provide community input and endorsement to FESAC planning activities and (2) that the DOE initiate a review by an NRC committee with the goal of determining the desirability as well as the scientific and technological credibility of the burning plasma experiment design. The 2001 FESAC report was highly influential, and DOE adopted both follow-on planning activities.

In 2002, the U.S. fusion community organized a fusion summer study, cosponsored by the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics, the American Nuclear Society’s Fusion Energy Division, and the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES). At the same time, DOE Office of Science’s Acting Director James Decker charged FESAC to establish a high-level panel to recommend a strategy for burning plasma experiments. The FESAC Panel on a Burning Plasma Program Strategy to Advance Fusion Energy6 considered three options for a burning plasma experiment at different sizes and levels of readiness and concluded, “Since ITER is at an advanced stage, has the most comprehensive science and technology program, and is supported internationally, we should now seek to join the ITER negotiations with the aim of becoming a partner in the undertaking, with technical, programmatic and timing considerations” (p. 3) that included U.S. participation in the full range of activities, proposing and implementing science experiments, reviewing the overall cost of the ITER project, and concluding that ITER is highly likely to proceed to construction.

On September 2002, and upon release of the 2002 FESAC report, Raymond Orbach, Director of the DOE Office of Science, tasked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine7 to “carry out an assessment of a program of burning plasma experiments and its role in magnetic fusion research.” The Burn-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

ing Plasma Assessment Committee was instructed to complete an interim report8 containing “advice to the Department of Energy regarding reentering negotiations to be a participant in the multinational burning plasma experiment (ITER).” The committee was also asked to “make recommendations on the program strategy aimed at maximizing the yield of scientific and technical understanding as the foundation for the future development of fusion as an energy source.” But the committee was not asked to evaluate fusion as an energy option. This task was given to a FESAC subcommittee, also in September 2002, resulting in the 2003 report A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy.9 While the National Academies committee was asked to consider the importance and readiness to undertake a burning plasma experimental program, the FESAC subcommittee was asked “to comment, from our present state of understanding of fusion, on the prospects and practicality of electricity into the U.S. grid from fusion in 35 years.”

The interim report of the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee was released on December 20, 2002, and recommended that “the United States enter ITER negotiations while the strategy for an expanded U.S. fusion program is further defined and evaluated.” This recommendation was subject to three conditions: (1) “a strategically balanced program, including meaningful U.S. participation in ITER and a strong domestic fusion science program, must be maintained, recognizing that this will eventually require a substantial augmentation in fusion program funding in addition to the direct financial commitment to ITER construction,” (2) “fusion program strategy should include cost estimates and scenarios for involvement in ITER, integration with the existing fusion science program, contingency planning, and additional issues as raised in this letter,” and (3) “the United States should pursue an appropriate level of involvement in ITER, which at a minimum would guarantee access to all data from ITER, the right to propose and carry out experiments, and a role in producing the high-technology components of the facility, consistent with the size of the U.S. contribution to the program.”10

The 2003 FESAC report presented a comprehensive fusion development strategy that included both inertial fusion energy (IFE) and magnetic fusion energy (MFE). The key conclusion of the plan was “to develop fusion energy on this timescale [35 years], it is imperative to have a strong balanced program that develops fusion science and technology in parallel.”11 The committee found a set of overlapping scientific and technological challenges that determined the development path for fusion energy. These challenges are presented in Figure C.1 and comprise research in configuration optimization, burning plasma science, materials testing, fusion component testing, demonstration of environmentally and economically attractive fusion energy, and the underlying science and technology programs in basic plasma science, theory and simulation, materials science, and engineering science.

Six weeks after the release of the interim report of the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee, on January 30, 2003, President George W. Bush announced “that

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Image
FIGURE C.1 The overlapping scientific and technological challenges needed in the fusion development path described in the 2003 FESAC Report (p. 7 of Ref. 9). In order to demonstrate fusion electricity, materials testing research and fusion component testing should accompany burning plasma research. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy, 2003, A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, Report of the Fusion Development Panel, DOE/SC-0074, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Washington, DC, March; also available as R. Goldston, M. Abdou, C. Baker, M. Campbell, V. Chan, S. Dean, A. Hubbard, et al., 2002, Journal of Fusion Energy 21:61, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025038002187.

the United States will join an ambitious international research project to harness the promise of fusion energy, the same form of energy that powers the Sun.”12 The President’s announcement described ITER as “the largest and most technologically sophisticated fusion experiment in the world.” The President also acknowledged the National Academies recommendation for U.S. participation in ITER and further explained, “This step is critical to the development of fusion as a viable energy source. Recent scientific developments have advanced knowledge of this field to the point that scientists now believe ITER can demonstrate the feasibility of this technology as part of an ongoing effort to develop a practical energy-generating device.”

Later that year, Raymond Orbach requested FESAC to assist in establishing priorities for the fusion program in light of the recommendation of the 2004 Burning Plasma Assessment Committee for a new effort to integrate ITER into the U.S. domestic program. The 2005 FESAC report Scientific Challenges, Opportunities and Priorities for the U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences Program13 described overarching themes, asked topical scientific questions, and defined six campaigns to plan, organize, and coordinate research activities. The committee’s recommendations called for “a research program that encompasses a broad range of key scientific questions,”

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

identified high-priority activities for the domestic research program that would be enhanced with additional funding, and stated “the need for additional major domestic experimental facilities.”

Achievement of government consensus on rejoining ITER, along with broad support within the U.S. scientific community, was a major accomplishment over the past decade. The committee’s key recommendation was the following: “The United States should participate in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. If an international agreement to build ITER is reached, fulfilling the U.S. commitment should be the top priority in a balanced U.S. fusion science program.” Following this recommendation, DOE’s Twenty-Year Outlook14 listed ITER as the highest priority within the Office of Science in 2003 and again in 2007.15

The international agreement to build and operate a burning plasma experiment was finally formalized in Paris with the signing of the “Agreement on the Establishment of the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization for the Joint Implementation of the ITER Project” in November 2006.16 The ITER International Fusion Energy Organization (IO) is a public international organization, with limited privileges and legal immunities, involving the United States with China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation. At the signing ceremony, DOE Undersecretary for Science Raymond Orbach explained, “ITER is the first stand-alone, truly international, large-scale scientific research effort in the history of the world.”

U.S. Planning During the ITER Design Review and Start of Construction

As predicted by the 2004 Burning Plasma Assessment Committee, “once the [ITER] decision is made, fulfilling the international commitment to help construct the ITER facility and participate in the ITER program will necessarily become the highest priority in the program.”17 This new priority within the U.S. fusion energy sciences program following the ITER agreement resulted in several planning activities, both (1) to guide U.S. participation in the ITER project and (2) to develop and define U.S. fusion research that would accompany ITER.

In response to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, DOE Undersecretary for Science Raymond Orbach tasked the National Academies to review the plan for U.S. community participation in the ITER program18 that was developed by the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization. The committee made several recommendations, including that steps should be taken to “seek greater 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.”19 The committee also noted im-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

portant considerations not reflected in the DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER should be addressed and 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.”

Five subcommittees of FESAC provided important strategic guidance for the research needed to advance fusion energy science alongside ITER. These six subcommittees completed their reports in the 5 years following the signing of the ITER agreement:

  • Report of the 2007 FESAC Subcommittee on Priorities, Gaps and Opportunities: Towards A Long-Range Strategic Plan for Magnetic Fusion Energy,20 which submitted four recommendations: (1) “a long-term and detailed strategic plan should be developed and implemented as soon as possible,” (2) the “plan should recognize and address all scientific challenges of fusion energy including fusion engineering, materials sciences and plasma physics,” (3) the “plan should include bold steps and encourage adoption of major new initiatives or construction of new facilities in order to resolve scientific challenges,” and (4) “nine potential initiatives, ranging from key topics in fusion science and engineering to large, integrated plasma experiments exploring aspects of the fusion reactor environment” (pp. 6-7).
  • Report of the 2007 FESAC Subcommittee on Fusion Simulation Project (FSP),21 which recommended joint DOE/FES-Advanced Scientific Computing Research program activities “to develop advanced software designed to use leadership class computers for carrying out multi-scale physics simulations to provide information vital to delivering a realistic integrated fusion simulation model with unprecedented physics fidelity” (p. 1).
  • Report of the 2008 FESAC Toroidal Alternatives Panel,22 which made several general findings of the quality, benefit, and status of various configurations for magnetic confinement fusion.
  • DOE Office of Science, 2009 Report of the Research Needs Workshop for Magnetic Fusion Energy (ReNeW),23 which involved some 200 scientists from universities, national laboratories and private industry to develop a portfolio of research activities for U.S. research in magnetic fusion for two decades. The report characterized three “ReNeW thrusts” (p. 9): (1) “advancement in fundamental science and technology,” (2) “confrontation with critical fusion challenges,” and (3) “the potential for major transformation of the program—such as altering the vision of a fusion reactor, or shortening the time scale for fusion’s realization.”
  • The 2012 FESAC subcommittee report Materials Science and Technology Research Opportunities Now and in the ITER Era: A Focused Vision on Com-
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
  • pelling Fusion Nuclear Science Challenges24 made three overarching recommendations: (1) as fusion nuclear science matures from concept exploration studies to more complex proof of principle studies, it is appropriate to focus R&D on front-runner concepts; (2) numerous fusion nuclear science feasibility issues can be effectively investigated during the next 5 to 10 years by efficient use of medium-scale facilities; and (3) the key mission of the next step U.S. device should be to explore the integrated response of tritium fuel, materials and components in the extreme fusion environment in order to provide the knowledge bases to contain, conquer, harness and sustain a thermonuclear burning DT plasma at high temperatures (pp. vi-vii).

  • The 2012 FESAC subcommittee report Opportunities for and Modes of International Collaboration in Fusion Energy Sciences Research during the ITER Era25 considered the question “what additional international collaborations should be pursued by a US FES program that is already expecting to be dominated by the large international ITER collaboration?” and identified three compelling opportunities for international collaboration: (1) extending high performance regimes to long pulse, (2) development and integration of plasma wall solutions for fusion, and (3) burning plasma research in advance of ITER (pp. 7-9).

The 2007 FESAC report Priorities, Gaps and Opportunities “found remarkable progress has been made by the [fusion research] program but recognized that formidable challenges remain.” The report organized the key scientific and technical questions that need to be answered into three themes: creating predictable high-performance steady-state plasmas, taming the plasma material interface, and harnessing fusion power. An important conclusion of the FESAC subcommittee was multiple initiatives were needed to fully address the scientific and technical gaps in fusion development. Figure C.2 shows the effectiveness of the nine potential initiatives in addressing the key scientific and technical questions. While the ITER burning plasma research program addresses many questions, additional research should accompany ITER to answer questions related to the plasma material interface and the technologies to harnessing fusion power.

Simultaneous with the above-mentioned U.S. research planning activities, the United States contributed to the international review and update of the ITER physics basis and design. The initial ITER physics basis was published as nine chapters of Nuclear Fusion in 199926 and represented the combined expert knowledge of the international community for the ITER project. This physics basis was available to the 2004 NAS Burning Plasma Assessment Committee. With the signing of the ITER Joint Implementing Agreement, the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) Coordinating Committee updated the ITER physics basis, which appeared in 2007 as nine chapters (413 pages) in a special issue of Nuclear Fusion.27 The

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Image
FIGURE C.2 The effectiveness of nine potential initiatives to address all of the scientific and technical gaps to fusion energy development illustrates that accompany research in addition to ITER is needed. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy, 2007, Priorities, Gaps and Opportunities: Towards A Long-Range Strategic Plan for Magnetic Fusion Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, October, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2007/Fesac_planning_report.pdf, Figure 1.

ITER design review also resulted in topics affecting near-term procurement arrangements including poloidal field coil requirements, vertical stability, the effect of toroidal field ripple on thermal confinement, first wall material choice, disruptions, and disruption mitigation.28

Shortly after an international design review was completed in 2008, ITER construction began in 2010 in Cadarache, France.29 In 2012, by French Order, ITER became the first-of-a-kind licensed basic nuclear fusion facility.30

Management Reforms and the Updated ITER Cost and Schedule

Recent U.S. fusion energy strategic planning has been difficult because ITER construction costs have increased significantly and the construction schedule has significantly drawn-out. The increased construction cost for ITER has forced choices among program priorities and limited funding for new facilities.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

In May 2013, a bipartisan group of leaders in the U.S. Senate requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the cost and feasibility of ITER and its effect on U.S. fusion programs.31 The senators wrote, “At a time when federal budgets for research are likely to be constrained for the foreseeable future, concerns have been raised that funding for other U.S. fusion energy science programs and user facilities have, and may continue to be, cut to pay for increasing ITER costs.” The GAO recommended32 that “DOE formally propose the actions needed to set a reliable international project schedule and set a date to complete the U.S. fusion program’s strategic plan.”

In response to cost and schedule concerns, the ITER Council charged an independent team, chaired by William Madia, former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Stanford University vice president for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, to determine the causes for ITER’s cost increases and schedule delays and to make management recommendations. These recommendations resulted in significant management improvements by the ITER Council and the appointment of Bernard Bigot as the new ITER director in March 2015. The ITER Council approved a new Updated Long-Term Schedule (ULTS) to first plasma in June 2016, and DOE was able to approve the project execution plan for U.S. contributions to ITER in January 2017.33 A measure of the success of ITER’s management reforms is the fact that 2 years after the creation of the updated long-term schedule, the project remains on schedule for first plasma in 2025 and, since January 2016, has achieved all 33 scheduled project milestones.34

While ITER management reforms have been successful, recent strategic planning efforts in the United States have been less successful. As noted by the 2014 GAO report, “Without a strategic plan for the U.S. fusion program, DOE does not have information to create an understanding among stakeholders about its plans for balancing the competing demands the program faces with the limited available resources or to help improve Congress’ ability to weigh the trade-offs of different funding decisions for the U.S. ITER Project and overall U.S. fusion program.”

Responding to a request from the Office of Science, the FESAC Subcommittee on the Prioritization of Proposed Scientific User Facilities for the Office of Science35 recommended three new U.S. facilities as “absolutely central” to world-leading fusion science: (1) a fusion materials irradiation facility, which would “transform nuclear material science and address critical gaps in irradiation capability needed to qualify materials for future science missions”; (2) a fusion nuclear science facility (FNSF), which would “provide the first-ever access to the integrated controlled thermonuclear fusion environment, which is characterized by strong couplings among high temperature plasma properties, plasma-material interactions, fusion neutron science and extreme material alterations and damage”; and (3) a quasi-symmetric stellarator experiment, which would “evaluate a pathway toward producing steady, quiescent magnetically-confined fusion plasmas by sci-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

entific optimization of the underlying toroidal magnetic field geometry.” Each of these recommended facilities would have created new opportunities to enhance or establish U.S. leadership in plasma and fusion science; however, none were adopted or pursued.

Then, responding to a congressional request in the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act, the DOE Office of Science asked FESAC to prioritize among research program elements defined by DOE/FES assuming continued participation in ITER and include views on new facilities, initiatives, and facility closures. The resulting FESAC strategic panel report36 was controversial and recommended a strategy that would “transition the U.S. to a fusion energy program bounded by realistic budgets” and the start of a fusion nuclear science subprogram that would provide the scientific and technological basis for an FNSF as a critical step toward commercial power. In its transmittal letter, the Acting Chair of FESAC at the time wrote, “The lack of adequate consensus on top-level vision, strategy, and priorities makes it difficult for more technically oriented groups . . . to achieve widespread acceptance of recommended strategic initiatives and associated program-wide FES investments.”

The DOE/FES presented its current vision for fusion research to Congress in 2015.37 The overall mission is to “expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source.” U.S. fusion research emphasizes two frontiers in burning plasma science: “the physics of self-heated burning plasma state” using ITER as the vehicle for gaining access to this state, and the “great scientific challenge for fusion is to develop materials that can tolerate the extreme conditions created by burning plasma in a fusion reactor.” The majority of the DOE/FES program budget contributes to developing the predictive understanding needed for ITER operations and providing solutions to high-priority ITER research needs. A smaller element, called “Discovery Plasma Science,” represents about 15 percent of the annual fusion budget and supports research that advances fundamental understanding of ionized matter, or plasma, in support of non-fusion applications. The DOE Office of Science Ten-Year Strategic Vision report to Congress in 2015 emphasizes three continuing research thrusts: controlling transient events, the interface between fusion plasma and the surrounding material structures, and experimentally validated predictive simulations using massively parallel computers. This Ten-Year Strategic Vision benefited from the following community workshop reports: (1) Science Challenges and Research Opportunities in Plasma Materials Interactions,38 (2) Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences,39 and (3) Transients in Tokamak Plasmas.40 In addition, FESAC completed the report Applications of Fusion Energy Sciences Research: Scientific Discoveries and New Technologies Beyond Fusion,41 which identified areas of fusion energy sciences with broad impact on fields of science, technology, and engineering not directly associ-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

ated with fusion energy. While the DOE Office of Science Ten-Year Strategic Vision highlights important areas of research for the next decade, DOE has not presented a plan for research and technology programs needed to progress beyond ITER to a source of fusion power nor started a fusion nuclear science subprogram leading to a new facility and to progress toward commercial power that was recommended by FESAC.42

At the end of 2015, the question of U.S. partnership in the ITER project was still unresolved, and Congress requested “the Secretary of Energy to submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a report recommending either that the Unites States remain a partner in the ITER project after October 2017 or terminate participation.”43 The Secretary’s report was delivered to Congress in May 2016 and opened with the statement, “ITER remains the best candidate today to demonstrate sustained burning plasma, which is a necessary precursor to demonstrating fusion energy power.”44 The Secretary of Energy recommended that the United States remain a partner in the ITER project through FY2018 and acknowledged the significant construction progress made at ITER and the substantial improvements of ITER project management, but also noted significant technical and management risks remain. Continued ITER membership of the Unites States past FY2018 awaits determination if project performance will be sustained and whether the larger costs needed for U.S. obligations for ITER construction can be accommodated in future budgets for the DOE Office of Science. Additionally, the Secretary’s report requested advice from the National Academies and the establishment of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research, and J. Stephen Binkley, acting director of the DOE Office of Science, requested a report from FESAC “identifying the most promising transformative enabling capabilities for the U.S. to pursue that could promote efficient advance towards attractive fusion energy.”45

The project cost and schedule for the U.S. contributions to ITER first plasma construction were finalized in January 2017 and detailed in the Project Execution Plan for the U.S. Contributions to ITER Subproject-1.46 The DOE execution plan was developed by the DOE Office of Science based upon the ULTS to first plasma. The ULTS was approved by the ITER Council in June 2016 and independently reviewed by an ITER Council Review Group in April 2016.47 As the committee notes, a measure of the reliability of ITER’s new schedule is the fact that 2 years after the creation of the updated long-term schedule, the project remains on schedule for first plasma in 2025 and, since January 2016, has achieved all 33 scheduled project milestones.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

NOTES

1. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 2001, Review of Burning Plasma Physics, DOE/SC-0041, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Washington, DC, https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/46/134/46134990.pdf.

2. DOE, 2015, Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences Program: A Ten-Year Perspective, Report to Congress, Washington, DC, December.

3. National Research Council (NRC), 2004, Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.17226/10816.

4. C. Baker, R. Davidson, S. Dean, J. Freidberg, and J. Sheffield, 1999, Report of the FESAC Panel on Priorities and Balance, Journal of Fusion Energy 18:65, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018831113757.

5. DOE, 2001, Review of Burning Plasma Physics, p. 7.

6. DOE, 2002, Burning Plasma Program Strategy to Advance Fusion Energy, Report of the Panel on a Burning Plasma Program Strategy to Advance Fusion Energy, DOE/SC-0060, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Washington, DC, September; also available as S. Prager, C. Baker, D. Baldwin, H. Berk, R. Betti, J. Callen, V. Chan, et al., 2001, Report of the FESAC Panel on a Burning Plasma Program Strategy to Advance Fusion Energy, Journal of Fusion Energy 20:85, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021398608479.

7. Effective July 1, 2015, the institution is called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. References in this report to the National Research Council are used in a historical context identifying programs prior to July 1.

8. See Appendix E of NRC, 2004, Burning Plasma.

9. DOE, 2003, A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, Report of the Fusion Development Panel, DOE/SC-0074, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Washington, DC, March; also available as R. Goldston, M. Abdou, C. Baker, et al., 2002, Journal of Fusion Energy 21:61, https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025038002187.

10. NRC, 2004, Burning Plasma, p. 157.

11. DOE, 2003, A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, p. 6.

12. The White House, 2003, “Fact Sheet: ITER,” January 30, Washington, DC.

13. DOE, 2005, Scientific Challenges, Opportunities and Priorities for the U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences Program, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Washington, DC; available as C. Baker, S. Prager, M. Abdou, et al., 2005, Scientific challenges, opportunities and priorities for the U.S. fusion energy sciences program, Journal of Fusion Energy 24:13, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10894005-6922-z.

14. DOE, 2003, Facilities for the Future—A Twenty Year Outlook, Office of Science, Washington, DC, November.

15. DOE, 2007, Four Years Later: An Interim Report on Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty-Year Outlook, Office of Science, Washington, DC.

16. International Atomic Energy Agency, 2007, “Agreement on the Establishment of the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization for the Joint Implementation of the ITER Project,” Information Circular, INFCIRC/702, April 25, https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/2007/infcirc702.pdf.

17. NRC, 2004, Burning Plasma, p. 12.

18. NRC, 2009, A Review of the DOE Plan for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.17226/12449.

19. NRC, 2009, A Review of the DOE Plan, pp. 2-4.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

20. DOE, 2007, Priorities, Gaps and Opportunities: Towards A Long-Range Strategic Plan for Magnetic Fusion Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2007/Fesac_planning_report.pdf.

21. DOE, 2007, FESAC Fusion Simulation Project (FSP) Panel Final Report, October 30, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2007/Fesac_fsp_report.pdf.

22. DOE, 2008, Report of the FESAC Toroidal Alternatives Panel, November 26, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2008/Toroidal_alternates_panel_report.pdf.

23. DOE, 2009, Research Needs Workshop for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences: Report of the Research Needs Workshop (ReNeW), Bethesda, Maryland, June 8-12, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/workshop-reports/Res_needs_mag_fusion_report_june_2009.pdf.

24. DOE, 2012, Materials Science and Technology Research Opportunities Now and in the ITER Era: A Focused Vision on Compelling Fusion Nuclear Science Challenges, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, February, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/workshopreports/20120309/fesac_materials_science_final_report.pdf.

25. DOE, 2012, Opportunities for and Modes of International Collaboration in Fusion Energy Sciences Research during the ITER Era, DOE/SC-0149, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, February, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/workshop-reports/20120309/Intl_Collab_Final_SCSC-PRINT.pdf.

26. ITER Physics Basis Editors, ITER Physics Expert Group Chairs and Co-Chairs, ITER Joint Central Team, 1999, Chapter 1: Overview and Summary, Nuclear Fusion 39:2137, https://doi.org/10.1088/0029-5515/39/12/301.

27. K. Ikeda, 2007, “Preface: Progress in the ITER Physics Basis,” Nuclear Fusion 47, http://doi.org/10.1088/0029-5515/47/6/E01.

28. R.J. Hawryluk, D.J. Campbell, G. Janeschitz, P.R. Thomas, R. Albanese, R. Ambrosino, C. Bachmann, et al., 2009, Principal physics developments evaluated in the ITER design review, Nuclear Fusion 49:065012, http://doi.org/10.1088/0029-5515/49/6/065012.

29. M. Banks, 2010, Construction begins, but ITER’s costs spiral, Physics World 23(7):10.

30. P. Wouters, G. Serra, J. Furlan, and Ph. Jucker, 2017, Implementation at ITER of the French Order of 7 February 2012, Concerning Basic Nuclear Installations within the European Domestic Agency, Nuclear Fusion 57:100401, https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-4326/aa64fc.

31. U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 2013, “Senators Request GAO Investigation of Costs at Experimental Fusion Reactor,” Newsroom Report, May 3, https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/5/senators-request-gao-investigation-of-costs-at-experimentalfusion-reactor.

32. U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2014, Fusion Energy: Actions Needed to Finalize Cost and Schedule Estimates for U.S. Contributions to an International Experimental Reactor, Report to Congress, GAO-14-499, Washington, DC, June; https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-499.

33. DOE, 2017, Project Execution Plan for U.S. ITER Subproject-1, DOE Project No. 14-SC-60, Office of Science, Fusion Energy Sciences, Washington, DC, January.

34. ITER Council, 2018, “22nd ITER Council Affirms Project Progress to Achieve First Plasma in 2025,” press release, June 21, https://www.iter.org/doc/www/content/com/Lists/list_items/Attachments/777/2018_06_IC-22.pdf.

35. DOE, 2013, Report of the FESAC Subcommittee on the Prioritization of Proposed Scientific User Facilities for the Office of Science, March 21, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2013/FESAC_Facilities_Report_Final.pdf.

36. DOE, 2014, Report on Strategic Planning: Priorities Assessment and Budget Scenarios, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Office of Science, December, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2014/October/FESAC_strategic_planning_rept_dec14.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×

37. DOE, 2015, Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences Program: A Ten-Year Perspective, Report to Congress, Office of Science, Washington, DC, December.

38. DOE, 2015, Fusion Energy Sciences Workshop: Report on Science Challenges and Research Opportunities in Plasma Materials Interactions, Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/workshop-reports/2016/PMI_fullreport_21Aug2015.pdf.

39. DOE, 2015, Report of the Workshop on Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences, Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/workshop-reports/2016/ISFusionWorkshopReport_11-12-2015.pdf.

40. DOE, 2015, Fusion Energy Sciences Workshop on Transients in Tokamak Plasmas: Report on Scientific Challenges and Research Opportunities in Transient Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/pdf/program-news/Transients_Report.pdf.

41. DOE, 2015, Applications of Fusion Energy Sciences Research: Scientific Discoveries and New Technologies Beyond Fusion, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Office of Science, September, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2015/2101507/FINAL_FES_NonFusionAppReport_090215.pdf.

42. DOE, 2015, Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences Program: A Ten-Year Perspective, Report to Congress, Office of Science, Washington, DC, December, p. 18.

43. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, 129 STAT. 2410, Public Law 114-113, December 19, 2015.

44. DOE, 2016. U.S. Participation in the ITER Project, Report to Congress, Washington, DC, May, p. ii.

45. DOE, 2018, Transformative Enabling Capabilities Toward Fusion Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, February, https://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2018/TEC_Report_15Feb2018.pdf.

46. DOE, 2017, Project Execution Plan for U.S. ITER Subproject-1, DOE Project No. 14-SC-60, Fusion Energy Sciences, Office of Science, Washington, DC, January.

47. ITER Council Review Group, 2016, ITER Council Working Group on the Independent Review of the Updated Long-Term Schedule and Human Resources (ICRG): Report, April 15, http://www.firefusionpower.org/ITER_ICRG_Report_2016.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 185
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 186
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 187
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 188
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 189
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 190
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 191
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 192
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 193
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 194
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 195
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 196
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 197
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Strategic Planning for U.S. Burning Plasma Research from 2000 to 2018." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25331.
×
Page 198
Next: Appendix D: Bibliography of Previous Studies Consulted by the Committee »
Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $95.00 Buy Ebook | $74.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Fusion offers the prospect of virtually unlimited energy. The United States and many nations around the world have made enormous progress toward achieving fusion energy. With ITER scheduled to go online within a decade and demonstrate controlled fusion ten years later, now is the right time for the United States to develop plans to benefit from its investment in burning plasma research and take steps to develop fusion electricity for the nation’s future energy needs. At the request of the Department of Energy, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a committee to develop a strategic plan for U.S. fusion research. The final report’s two main recommendations are: (1) The United States should remain an ITER partner as the most cost-effective way to gain experience with a burning plasma at the scale of a power plant. (2) The United States should start a national program of accompanying research and technology leading to the construction of a compact pilot plant that produces electricity from fusion at the lowest possible capital cost.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!