Tag Archives: American Nuclear Society

Fusion Update

Peter Lobner

In February 2021, I posted the article “The Fork in the Road to Electric Power From Fusion,” with links to a set of supporting articles that provide details on 18 fusion power reactor development projects, mostly at private firms.

In March 2023, the United States Government Accountability Office issued their report GAO-23-105813, “Technology Assessment – Fusion Energy – Potentially Transformative Technology Still Faces Fundamental Challenge.” This GAO report provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of several different fusion energy concepts being developed worldwide.  You can download a copy of this GAO report here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-23-105813.pdf

The American Nuclear Society review of the GAO report is contained in an article, “New GAO report focuses on fusion,” which is available here: https://www.ans.org/news/article-4891/new-gao-report-focuses-on-fusion/

ANS summarized GAO’s finding: “Despite decades of research and recent promising developments, the report notes, fusion science has still not achieved net energy gain.”  

To illustrate this point, GAO commented on the recent high-profile announcement that a net fusion energy gain had been achieved during a test at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). GAO graphically showed how this claim is only true from the perspective of the small fusion reaction chamber (the Hohlraum) at the heart of NIF.  As shown in the following GAO diagram, which appropriately treats the whole NIF as a “black box,” a total of 300 Megajoules (MJ) were input to the facility and only 3.15 MJ were generated by fusion reactions in the Hohlraum. That fusion power was absorbed by the Hohlraum and adjacent NIF structures and systems. No “net power” left the NIF “black box,” but then, NIF wasn’t designed to be a power plant.  

As future claims of net energy gain are made by the various fusion power reactor development teams, think of each of their fusion facilities as a black box. The future of fusion-generated electricity depends first and foremost on being able to get much more energy out of the black box than went into it. 

Is EPA Fudging the Numbers for its Carbon Regulation?

Peter Lobner

In my 2 July 2015 post, I commented on significant deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposed rule. On 3 August 2015, the EPA announced the final rule. You can read the final rule for existing power plants, the EPA’s regulatory impact analysis, and associated fact sheets at the following link:


The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. The IER home page is at the following link:


On 24 November 2015, the IER published an insightful article entitled, Is EPA Fudging the Numbers for its Carbon Regulation?, which I believe is worth your attention. The IER’s main points are:

  1. U.S. Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) is the data source usually used by federal government agencies in their analysis of energy issues.
  2. EPA stands out as an exception. It frequently chooses not to use EIA data, and instead develops it’s own duplicative, different data.
  3. In the case of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s own data significantly underestimates the number of coal plants that need to be retired to comply with the Plan. The result is a much lower estimate of the economic impact of the Plan than if EIA data had been used.

It appears to me that the EPA created and used data skewed to produce a more favorable, but likely unrealistic, estimate of the economic impact that will borne by the U.S. power industry and power customers as the Clean Power Plan is implemented. Form your own opinion after reading the full IER article at the following link:


Update 19 Feb 2016

On 8 February 2016, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) released their, “Nuclear in the States Toolkit Version 1.0 – Policy Options for States Considering the Role of Nuclear Power in Their Energy Mix.” The toolkit catalogs policies related to new and existing nuclear reactors for state policymakers to consider as they draft their Clean Power Plan compliance strategies.   The Toolkit identifies a range of policy options that individually or in aggregate can make nuclear generation a more attractive generation alternative for states and utilities.

You can download this document at the following link:


On 9 February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay on implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) pending the resolution of legal challenges to the program in court.

The ANS noted that, “….the stay provides them (the states) an opportunity to take a new look at the carbon offsets that existing nuclear plants provide, which they weren’t encouraged to do under the CPP rules.”