WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, December 10, 2013 the American Security Project hosted the first day of the 34th Annual Fusion Power Associates Conference. Entitled "Fusion Energy: Visions for the Future," the conference featured participation from some of the world's top fusion scientists.
Particular highlights included Dr. Osamu Motajima, the Director General of the ITER Organization. Since 2010, Dr. Motajima has led ITER in its efforts to build a 'burning plasma' fusion reactor in Cadarache, France. Motajima talked about the importance of creating a 'project culture' around the program in order to bring construction back onto schedule. The ITER project is a 7 nation treaty-based collaboration between the EU, the US, Russia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Dr. Ned Sauthoff, the Director of the US contribution to ITER underscored that the US remains on budget, but does face future budget challenges.
Also presenting were John Edwards of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who discussed the breakthroughs in inertial fusion research ongoing at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Dr. Steve Obenschain of the US Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Robert McCrory, and others talked about progress and pathways to inertial fusion (using lasers) outside of NIF's approach.
There were a series of presentations about how to build a roadmap to developing a demonstration fusion energy power plant. Dr. Yuanxi Wan presented the Chinese roadmap to fusion energy -- his presentation showed how aggressive China is in its efforts to develop their Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR). Representatives from the EU, Japan, and South Korea detailed their national roadmaps. Speaking for the U.S. magnetic fusion program, representatives like Dr. Stewart Prager and Dr. Dale Meade of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory spoke about how the U.S. lacks a defined roadmap, but that the scientists should "fight for" an aggressive program of development -- even though they are not currently on such a path. Presenters talked about the need to develop technologies that have "breakout potential" so that, if and when policymakers decide that fusion is important, the scientists will be ready to expand rapidly.
ASP's Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate, Andrew Holland, finished the day with a call to action, saying that fusion is real, possible, and important. He underscored that the reason that fusion has not achieved its promise is not because the scientists have "over promised" -- it is because policymakers have consistently failed in their side of the bargain. They have not invested the necessary resources to achieve fusion's promise.