Magnetic Confinement Fusion Program Plan Posted

August 15, 2021

The 1976 Fusion Power by Magnetic Confinement Program Plan, consisting of four volumes, has now been posted in its entirety. Volume I (Summary) has long been widely available [e.g., at https://fire.pppl.gov/us_fusion_plan_1976.pdf and J. Fusion Energy 17, 263 (1998)] but the other volumes, containing detailed subprograms and cost estimates, have long been out of print. The set can be found at:

https://archive.org/details/fusionpowerbymag01usen Vol. 1 Summary
https://archive.org/details/fusionpowerbymag02usen Vol. 2 Logic III Long-Range Plan
https://archive.org/details/fusionpowerbymag03usen Vol. 3 Logic III 5-Year Plan
https://archive.org/details/fusionpowerbymag04usen Vol. 4 Logic III 5-Year Plan in Depth

Over the past few years the U. S. magnetic fusion program community has prepared a "strategic plan" detailing the current state of progress and describing much of what remains to be accomplished to bring fusion power to commercial reality. This effort has been complemented by two National Academies' reviews and a complementary study by the Department of Energy's Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC).

What remains to be done, however, is to convert these studies to a detailed execution-style plan than can be used by management to move toward the goal in a concrete and accountable manner. Such a plan will need to have many, if not all, of the features embedded in the 1976 documents, such as a "roadmap" with milestones, and decision points on concept narrowing and selection, construction of an array of needed specialized development and demonstration facilities, and detailed cost and schedule estimates for implementing the development to its long-sought goal of producing practical fusion power on a target schedule.

The 1976 plan documents note that the plan "is not a roadmap to be followed blindly to the end goal. Rather it is tool of management, a dynamic and living document which will change and evolve as scientific, engineering/technology and commercial/economic/environmental analysis and progress proceeds. The use of plans such as this one in technically complex development program requires judgment and flexibility as new insights into the nature of the task evolves."

Volume I (the Summary Volume, 59 pages) outlines "a multiplicity of paths", referred to as Program Logics (5 in total), differentiated by various levels of effort, up to "maximum effective effort". Year by year budget requirements are provided, drawn from detailed input from the other Volumes.

Volume II (Long Range Planning Projections, 129 pages) describes the costs and schedules and for the 5 Logics detail and describes "rollback planning".

Volume III (Five Year Plan, 252 pages) describes the technical content and costs of the Logic III reference option (Demonstration Power Plant in 20 years) for the first five years.

Volume IV (Five Year Budget and Milestones, 156 pages) provides 5-year milestone targets and budget requirements at a deeper level for all the technical sub-elements of the reference Logic III option.

The primary planning approach uses "roll-forward" planning, i.e. it starts from the present status and looks forward to identify requirements to make progress. However, “roll-back” planning is also proposed and used to set subsystem goals based on performance requirements of a hypothetical Demonstration Plant (see Section V of Vol. II). Roll-back planning ensures that planners recognize the truth of the adage "If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else".