Heralding a fusion breakthrough and “a new era” for energy

September 13, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Paul Dabbar, former undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy and distinguished visiting fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, is lauding the recent successful test of a 10-ton high-temperature superconducting magnet performed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems. In an op-ed published on September 10 in The Hill, Dabbar calls for a new level of investment and support for the commercial fusion sector.

Fusion gets closer: Dabbar notes that CFS’s achievement “very likely sets up the first ever net-energy-out fusion plant being commissioned four years from today.” He adds, “Everyone in the energy industry, policymakers, academia, and labs should take note that we are at the dawn of a new energy revolution.”

Acknowledging that other fusion companies could also be approaching milestone achievements, Dabbar says, “U.S. fusion energy policy should promptly get a review and identify how we can help accelerate this new age.”

Support is needed: Noting that Congress and the U.S. fusion community have significantly increased their activities in support of commercial fusion energy in the past few years, Dabbar said, “[CFS’s] announcement should cause policymakers to reassess some specifics on fusion. They should look at fully funding certain authorized fusion efforts. Efforts should also be accelerated beyond those levels in certain areas, including increased support for demonstration plants, designing and building power-production portions of a fusion power plant, and further materials testing efforts for the fusion containment.

“Everyone should absorb that the fusion age is upon us,” Dabbar added. “The target for net-energy-out fusion is now four years, not 30. And we should identify how to take this jump in technology and drive the future: built here in the U.S., with American technology and innovation.”

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