Report urges construction of pilot fusion plant

Written by
John Greenwald portrait
John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
March 24, 2021

A new report issued by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) urges the United States to accelerate the construction of a fusion-powered pilot plant as the first step toward creating a fully commercial fusion plant by 2050.

“This report outlines the path for the U.S. public and private investors to do the necessary scientific and technical innovation and design leading to building a pilot plant,” said Richard Hawryluk, chairman of NASEM and the associate director for fusion at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

Fusion – the nuclear process that fuels the sun and stars – promises to provide a virtually inexhaustible supply of energy to generate safe and clean electricity.

The 93-page report calls for 2028 to be the date for completion of a preliminary design for a fusion pilot plant, with a plant in operation in 2035-2040. The hope is to make fusion power commercially viable by 2050.

“We’ve identified key goals for a pilot plant that would support a decision to build a commercial fusion power plant and the innovations in research that are needed to get there,” said Hawryluk.

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