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Fusion Budget FPN15-18 - Leave ITER

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:11 pm
by MSimon

The Committee recommends $270,168,000 for Fusion Energy Sciences.

U.S. Contribution to ITER.-The Committee recommends no funding for the U.S. contribution to ITER.

The Committee has previously expressed and continues to remain concerned about the rising cost of the United States' participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor [ITER] under construction in Cadarache, France, as well as management problems and continued delays. The United States is to pay 9.09 percent of the projects' construction costs. In 2008, the total cost share for the United States was estimated to be between $1,450,000,000 and $2,200,000,000, and is now estimated to be somewhere between $4,000,000,000 and $6,500,000,000. With declining budgets, the Committee believes funding for the contribution to ITER is crowding out other Federal science investments, including domestic fusion research, as well as high performance computing and materials science, where the United States has maintained leadership. In addition, there is no approved cost or schedule baseline for the project, and the Committee recommends not supporting a project with no specified price tag or date of completion.

For these reasons, the Committee directs the Secretary to work with the Department of State to withdraw from the ITER project. The Committee recommends no funds for the U.S. contribution to ITER.

Within the funds for Fusion Energy Sciences, the Committee recommends $2,750,000 to continue heavy ion fusion science research at the Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment-II at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Re: Fusion Budget FPN15-18 - Leave ITER

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 3:14 pm
by MSimon
Earlier News Here:


Re: Fusion Budget FPN15-18 - Leave ITER

Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:58 am
by Ivy Matt
That's the Senate's budget recommendation. The House's budget recommendation is here:
The Committee recommends $467,600,000 for Fusion Energy Sciences, $100,000 above fiscal year 2015 and $47,600,000 above the budget request.
Construction.--The Committee recommends $150,000,000 for the U.S. contribution to the ITER project, the same as fiscal year 2015 and the budget request.

The Committee continues to believe the ITER project represents an important step forward for energy sciences and has the potential to revolutionize the current understanding of fusion energy. In 2013, the third biennial management assessment report identified eleven management challenges that threaten the success of the ITER project. The Committee recognizes the continued efforts of the ITER organization in responding to these recommendations and expects that ITER's new leadership will implement reforms in a timely manner. The success of ITER depends on making continued project management progress and the Committee includes funding for the ITER Council to continue its implementation efforts. Should the ITER Council fail to reform the project management culture, the Committee will be forced to reconsider its support for the international project.

In the past few years the House has gotten its way with regard to the Fusion Energy Sciences budget. I don't expect this year will be any different, although recent pushback from US fusion researchers in response to Alcator C-Mod's near-death experience, and Dennis Whyte of MIT's advocacy of the ARC reactor concept may be a sign of things to come.

I believe the US is the only ITER member to have withdrawn from (and rejoined) the consortium (in 1999 and 2003, respectively). However, the ITER Organization was established by a treaty in 2006. The earliest date on which the US may withdraw from the ITER Organization is in 2017, not too far off. Under the current terms of the agreement, the US is primarily contributing hardware to ITER, which is designed and built in the US, and then shipped to France. The new director-general wants to change that by creating a discretionary fund (equal to 20% of fabrication costs) into which the ITER members pay directly, to give the ITER Organization flexibility in addressing issues as they arise. Whether he can convince all of the ITER members to agree to such terms remains to be seen.