Summary of the U.S. Senior Committee on Environmental, Safety, and Economic Aspects of Magnetic Fusion Energy (ESECOM)
Organized in late 1985, the ten-member. Senior Committee on Environmental, Safety, and Economic Aspects of Magnetic Fusion Energy (ESECOM) has recently completed a comprehensive assessment  of the potential for magnetic fusion energy (MFE) providing energy with attractive economic, environmental, and safety, characteristics compared to present and future fission energy sources. We explored the interaction of environmental, safety, and economic characteristics of a variety of fusion and fission cases listed in Section 2, using consistent economic and safety models. Our findings in Section 3 indicate that several MFE candidates have the potential to achieve costs of electricity (COE) comparable to those of present and future fission systems, and with significant safety and environmental advantages. These conclusions rest on key assumptions about plasma performance and improvements in fusion technology, which are optimistic but defensible extrapolations from current achievements. In contrast, a recent report of the Scientific, Technological Options Assessment (STOA) office of the European Parliament  proposes criteria for assessment of future MFE reactor safety and economics, which are generally much more restrictive than criteria used in the ESECOM study, with respect to allowing assumptions of future technology improvement. ESECOM, however, has taken the long view that the time horizon for MFE commercial application is the year 2015 at the earliest, and more probably beyond 2030. Accordingly, ESECOM chose to analyze MFE cases assuming advances of new technologies (e.g., materials) that are only in the beginning stages of development. Due to lack of space, only selected portions of the ESECOM work are discuss here.
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