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Fusion Budget Update, July 2013

Rezwan Razani - July 14, 2013

UPDATE as of January 15, 2014

Check out our Facebook page for most recent budget update.  We will be updating this page with more information and a detailed breakdown soon.

 

Previously (last year)

Reprinted from Mark Haynes email, July 2, 2013,

Here are the links to the Committee reports and below is the fusion relevant language from both reports.

Because of a number of factors, including the fact that the total expenditures in the House and Senate bills are about $4B apart (the Senate’s having the higher total), there seems to be only a small chance that the House and Senate will actually meet in conference and that there will be an FY14 E&W appropriations bill passed into law.  Instead, the betting money in Washington is currently pointing toward another Continuing Resolution.  If true, what that ultimately means in terms of funding and how DOE and/or the Office of Science will deal with it is not clear.

HOUSE REPORT LANGUAGE

FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES
The Fusion Energy Sciences program supports basic research and experimentation aiming to harness nuclear fusion for energy production. The Committee recommends $506,076,000 for fusion energy sciences, $104,968,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $47,752,000 above the budget request.

The domestic fusion program is a critical component of United States science leadership and a necessary building block of any successful fusion projects, including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The recommendation provides $288,576,000 for the domestic fusion program, $8,601,000 below fiscal year 2012—the last time Congress set forth a domestic fusion budget—and $55,252,000 above the request, of which $22,260,000 is for operations and research at the Alcator C-Mod Facility at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fiscal year 2014. The recommendation includes $217,500,000 for the United States contribution to ITER, the international collaboration to construct the world’s first self-sustaining experimental fusion reactor, $93,500,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $7,500,000 below the budget request.

Ten-Year Fusion Plan.—ITER is an important international collaboration that represents a major step forward in fusion energy science, but its funding requirements will create substantial budgetary challenges, throughout the decade. The Committee appreciates that the Office of Science is grappling with these challenges, but notes that the budget request does not strike the proper balance between the domestic fusion program and ITER. The Committee recommendation restores most of the proposed cuts to the domestic fusion program while also increasing ITER funding as the project enters its full construction phase.

Looking forward, the increasing requirements for ITER will continue to pose challenges within the Science budget, and the Committee believes that long-term policy decisions for the Fusion Energy Sciences should be guided by impartial analysis of scientific needs and opportunities and with an eye on American competitiveness and leadership. The Committee therefore reiterates the importance of the ten-year plan for Fusion Energy Sciences directed in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations conference report; that plan’s timely delivery to Congress; and the inclusion of priorities across domestic and international fusion facilities, projects, and programs. As the Administration formulates this plan, the Committee notes that the level of funding for fusion should not be assumed to be flat. As the Department continues to assert, ITER is one of the top priorities of the nation’s science program as a whole, and as such should require investments across all programs within science. The current estimated cost share for the U.S. portion of the project is $2,400,000,000 to achieve first plasma, with additional funding required to operate and maintain the facility over its lifespan. With this significant investment, our nation must maintain a robust domestic program and expertise to benefit from the project’s eventual operation.

ITER Project Directive.—The Committee is deeply concerned about the lack of transparency regarding the U.S. contribution to the ITER project, particularly given the scale and complexity of the project as it enters its full construction phase. The Department has yet to submit an ITER project data sheet, including a project baseline and cost schedule, both of which are instrumental to the Committee’s oversight role and consistent with all other DOE line-item construction projects. The Committee strongly encourages the Department to treat the U.S. contribution to ITER as a line-item construction project and directs the Department to submit a project baseline and cost schedule to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act.

INERTIAL
Science Campaign. The Committee recommends $397,902,000, the same as the budget request. The recommendation supports a substantial increase for a robust experimental effort to better understand the properties of plutonium and to ensure the NNSA can support pit certification requirements for future LEPs.

Engineering Campaign.  The Committee recommends $149,911,000, the same as the budget request.

Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign.—The Committee recommends $513,957,000, $112,914,000 above the budget request. Within these funds, $66,000,000 is for the OMEGA Laser Facility at the University of Rochester. Also within these funds, $329,000,000 is provided for operation of the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The NNSA requested $113,000,000 for NIF operations within its request for Site Stewardship. The recommendation consolidates total funding for NIF facility operations within Campaigns, consistent with how facility operations are funded for Z, OMEGA, and the scientific computing facilities. The NNSA is directed to budget for NIF operations in future budget requests in one location within Campaigns in order to provide better transparency into the total costs of operating the facility.

SENATE REPORT LANGUAGE

FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES
The Committee recommends $458,324,000 as requested for Fusion Energy Sciences. Within these funds, the Committee recommends no less than $75,000,000 for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to maintain core expertise in plasma theory and simulation, general plasma science, and tokamak research. The Committee also recommends no less than $77,000,000 for the DIII-D fusion reactor, which includes $10,264,000 for upgrades to the reactor, $16,000,000 to support critical scientific staff, and $904,000 to support university students and post-docs. The Committee provides no funding for the Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor at MIT. The Committee commends the Office of Science for making a difficult choice to shut down the facility to fund higher priority activities within the fusion energy sciences program.

The Committee also recommends $14,773,000 for High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, which includes $6,575,000 as requested for experiments on the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC and $8,198,000 for academic grants to study the behavior of matter and radiation at extreme temperatures and pressures to match funding available at NNSA for this joint program. The Committee also recommends $2,500,000 for heavy ion fusion science research at the Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment-II at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to take advantage of an $11,000,000 Recovery Act upgrade to the facility.

The Committee also recommends $12,000,000 for the Fusion Simulation program to provide experimentally validated predictive simulation capabilities that are critical for ITER and other current and planned toroidal fusion devices. The Committee is concerned that the fusion energy program is not taking full advantage of high performance computing to address scientific and technical challenges on the path to fusion energy. Given current and future budget constraints, the Committee views this initiative as critical to maintain U.S. world leadership in fusion energy sciences in a cost-effective manner. The Committee directs the Office of Science to develop a plan on the use of these simulation capabilities based on the results of a 2-year planning effort recently funded by the Department.

The Committee is concerned by the lack of a strategic vision, which includes research and future facility needs, to advance the domestic fusion energy sciences program. The Committee directs the Secretary to submit a 10-year plan, not later than 12 months after enactment of this act, on the Department’s proposed research and development activities in magnetic fusion. The report shall (1) identify specific areas of fusion energy research and enabling technology development in which the United States can and should establish or solidify a lead in the global fusion energy development effort and (2) identify priorities for facility construction and facility decommissioning.

The Committee recommends $183,502,000 for the U.S. contribution to ITER. No funding shall be made available for the U.S. contribution until the Secretary submits to this Committee a baseline cost, schedule, and scope estimate consistent with project management principles in DOE Order 413.3B of the U.S. contribution needed for completing all construction activities.

The Committee is concerned by the rising costs of the ITER project and the impact to the domestic program. The cost range for the U.S. contribution for construction activities was between $1,450,000,000 and $2,200,000,000. The most recent estimate is $2,400,000,000 and this estimate only fulfills U.S. obligations for first plasma, rather than all construction activities. The Committee is further concerned that the latest cost estimate does not properly account for the technical risk of building the most complicated engineering facility in the world. The most recent cost range was developed when the design for ITER was less than 40 percent complete.

The Committee also directs the Office of Science to include a project data sheet with details of all project costs until the completion of the project for ITER in the fiscal year 2015 budget submission. The Committee understands that the Department provides funding for ITER as a Major Item of Equipment rather than a line item construction project, which would be consistent with DOE Order 413.3B. However, the Committee feels that a multi-billion dollar project, especially of this scale and complexity, should be treated as a construction project and follow DOE Order 413.3B guidance.


INERTIAL

Science Campaign- The Committee recommends $374,723,000, a decrease of $23,179,000 below the request, for the Science Campaign. Within these funds, $34,000,000 shall be used at Sandia’s Z facility to continue critical plutonium and other physics experiments to support the stockpile stewardship program. The Committee encourages NNSA to prioritize fundamental and focused hydrodynamic and subcritical experiments over large-scale, integral experiments, as recommended by the JASON group of scientific advisors. The Committee supports strengthening predictive capabilities by obtaining critical data from focused and fundamental experiments that measure key dynamic properties of plutonium and other relevant materials and that study the interaction of radiation with matter. Given the cost of integral scaled subcritical experiments, the Committee encourages NNSA to prioritize scaled experiments that inform decisions for future life extension programs. The Committee also directs NNSA to provide a clear justification if it decides to increase the frequency of these experiments more than once every 18 months.

Engineering Campaign- The Committee recommends $90,043,000 for the engineering campaign. Funding for enhanced surety and funding associated with advanced diagnostics under Enhanced Surveillance has been moved to a new Technology Maturation Campaign.

Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High-Yield Campaign- The Committee recommends $528,376,000, an increase of $127,333,000 above the request, for the inertial confinement fusion ignition and high-yield campaign. The increase reflects a movement of $113,333,000 for the National Ignition Facility [NIF] operations in the Site Stewardship Site Operations account to the Facility Operations and Target Production account in this campaign to improve transparency of NIF operating costs. The Committee recommends that no funds within Site Operations and Maintenance shall be used for NIF. Within the funds for inertial confinement fusion, $329,000,000, $66,950,000, $54,000,000, and $6,000,000 shall be used for inertial confinement fusion activities at the NIF, the University of Rochester’s Omega facility, Sandia National Laboratory’s Z facility, and the Naval Research Laboratory, respectively. Within the $329,000,000 available for NIF, $30,000,000 is for the Advanced Radiographic Capability.

The Committee supports NNSA’s approach as laid out in the December 2012 Path Forward Report to Congress on the use of the National Ignition Facility, which involves more focused experiments to understand fundamental physics and improve the predictability of simulation codes for indirect drive ignition while also supporting polar drive and magnetically driven ignition experiments as alternative approaches to ignition. However, the Committee is concerned that NNSA has not developed clear metrics to measure NIF’s progress in achieving ignition and supporting stockpile stewardship. This Committee’s support for the National Ignition Facility will continue to be contingent on the unique contributions the facility makes to advance fundamental understanding of weapons physics. The Committee directs NNSA to provide the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this Act a 3-year plan that lays out significant milestones NIF plans to achieve on the path to ignition and critical experiments needed to support the stockpile stewardship program.

The Committee is also concerned by the operating costs of NIF, which is currently the most expensive experimental facility at the Department of Energy and NNSA. The Committee has seen little effort by NNSA to find operating efficiencies without significantly reducing the shot rate or laser energies. The Committee directs NNSA to submit to the Committee within 120 days of enactment of this Act a plan to increase the shot rate at NIF over the next 3 years with a budget of $329,000,000 over the next 3 years.

Consistent with NNSA’s other inertial confinement fusion facilities, the conferees direct that no less than 50 percent of the facility time on the NIF shall be dedicated to non-ignition stockpile stewardship experiments. The conferees further direct that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory follow the advice of the High Energy Density Planning and Facility Coordination Council, which is made up of nuclear weapons physics experts from all three NNSA laboratories, to determine which non-ignition stockpile stewardship experiments shall be conducted on NIF that meet the highest priorities of the stockpile stewardship program.