Status of DOE's Implementation of the Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980

RCED-83-105: Published: Apr 29, 1983. Publicly Released: May 16, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO determined the Department of Energy's (DOE) progress in implementing the Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980.

GAO noted that the act calls for progressive development of fusion energy in terms of scientific feasibility and potential commercial applicability by the end of the century. The act also requires that DOE pursue the development of several energy concepts so that their efficacy can be demonstrated and an optimal design be identified. Although DOE is pursuing an extensive research and development (R&D) program, lower than anticipated funding levels have caused DOE to revise its R&D program and strategy. DOE is currently concentrating its R&D efforts on the demonstrable concepts used in tokamak- and mirror-based fusion experimentation. DOE believes that information from existing test reactors and other fusion development components will give industry enough data to assess the commercial potential of fusion. GAO stated that the revised DOE strategy anticipates earlier and more extensive industry input into fusion development than foreseen by the act. Further, GAO found that several planning, organizational, and reporting requirements of the act have not been met. Specifically, the act's required comprehensive program management plan, which was due in 1982, has not been submitted to the appropriate congressional committees.

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