Sense of Urgency
In my opinion, the reason fusion has produced no useful electricity after more than 65 years and billions upon billions of dollars / euros invested is that there is no sense of urgency with this technology.
Fusion needs a General Groves or a very hard headed business leader that clearly sets the basic objective for fusion energy:
Produce electricity that is as reliable and cheaper than the one produced by fission reactors.
The objective cannot be "achieve fusion energy breakeven." That will never take us anywhere.
Then, they need a strict timeline, say: produce at least one megawatt of electrical power (which is really peanuts, but a beginning) with an annual capacity factor of at least 75% in a timeframe of five years.
Then, upgrade power, and capacity factor to say, produce 100 megawatts of power in 5 more years (10 since "Groves" takes over) with an annual capacity factor of 85%.
Additionally, cost needs to be an ALL important consideration, if not we'll just be racing to a Pyrrhic victory. Thus, the objective has to be something like this:
At the 1 megawatt level, fusion cost should be no greater than 10 times the fission cost (per MWh).
At the 100 megawatt level, fusion cost should be no greater than 3 times the fission cost.
The numbers above should consider net electricity generation and should obviously consider the cost of capital as the fuel in fusion as well as in fission is extremely cheap.
Consequently, the objective of fusion power is not to achieve it at any cost. No, cost considerations need to be an inherent part of the design. Among other things "Groves" should ask: will you be able to achieve the cost objectives using superconductive electro-magnets? If not, the superconductors must go.
If the 5 and 10 year objectives are not met, then the project itself will be discontinued and you'll have to find another job hopefully not in the government sector.
Feel free to add to the conversation in Twitter: @luisbaram