Podcast on Fusion Planning and Management

September 1, 2021

Ben Reinhardt is a research fellow at the Astera Institute where he is spinning up a private ARPA to coordinate and fund research programs that fall into the gap between academia and startups. On the side he hosts The Idea Machines Podcast that digs into the people and systems that help turn ideas into the reality of the future.

On June 28, 2021, he contacted Dr. Stephen O. Dean at Fusion Power Associates stating "I deeply appreciate the first volume of the (1976) Fusion Power Program Plan that you published. I've been trying to find volumes II->IV but I can't find them anywhere. Do you know where I might be able to find them? Relatedly, do you know what the process for creating the plan in the first place was? I'm especially interested in how the authors came up with the funding curves for the different logics. More broadly, I feel like we've lost the art of precise technological planning in the past several decades and I am trying to understand better how people did it in the past." Subsequently he obtained, and arranged to have posted (see FPN21-48) the complete multi-volume set of the ERDA 1976 Fusion Power by Magnetic Fusion Program Plan.

Two months later, on August 20, he conducted a 90 minute telephone interview with Dr. Dean, from which he produced a 60 minute podcast that can be found at the following link: https://ideamachinespodcast.com/stephen-dean

In the podcast Dean discusses the process used by management to prepare the 1976 plan and its subsequent role leading to the passage of the Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980, signed by President Carter in October of that year. He goes on to comment on the next 40 years of the U.S. fusion effort, marked by multiple additional planning efforts, reviews and changes in national energy policies, ending with comments on more recent planning, review and policy events.

Dr. Dean's bio can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_O._Dean

Ben Reinhardt can be reached at bzreinhardt@gmail.com