On Wednesday, July 27, the Senate voted 64-33 in bipartisan way to pass the CHIPS and Science Bill, while the House passed it Thursday, July 28 by a vote of 243-187, sending it to the President’s desk for signature.
The “CHIPS and Science” Bill is the latest name for the bill originally introduced in 2021 to support American competitiveness globally in a range of advanced technological fields. Its largest portion is direct spending that provides incentives to semiconductor manufacturers establishing or increasing operations in the US.
In addition to this important work, it authorizes more than $100 billion in increased scientific research and development within the US through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and elsewhere.
Within the increased authorization for Department of Energy R&D, Section 10105 deals with Fusion Energy Research, extending the authorization for inertial fusion research and development, alternative and enabling concepts, and the milestone-based development program through FY 2027. The FIA strongly supports each of these programs, particularly the milestone-based development program, as supporting the “Bold Decadal Vision” for commercial fusion as outlined by the White House in March. Moreover, new authorizations of $50m per year to support a fusion materials program is strongly needed to accelerate research on cutting edge materials common to many fusion devices.
Finally, new authorizations of $310m to support the creation of at least two “national teams” will allow the fusion program to align with the National Academies of Sciences roadmap. The FIA supports this new spending, but notes that the national teams are intended to be led by private sector companies, and all spending for this program can be leveraged with cost-shared public-private partnerships.
The FIA supports the final passage of the CHIPS and Science legislation through the House as soon as possible. The legislation will support increased fusion energy research by extending important programs and creating new ones. Going forward, these programs MUST be supported by increased budgets from both the President’s annual budget request and by Congressional Appropriators. It is vital for the US to continue to advance and scale-up fusion development– with public programs in support of private sector advances. Fusion will provide comprehensive long-term energy, climate, and economic security.
Subsection (a) amends section 307 of the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (42 U.S.C. 18645) by authorizing $50,000,000 per year for FY 2023 through FY 2027 for research and development of fusion materials. It extends the authorization for inertial fusion research and development, alternative and enabling concepts, and the milestone-based development program through FY 2027.
It authorizes the establishment of at least two national teams to develop conceptual designs and technology roadmaps for a pilot fusion plant, and authorizes $35,000,000 for FY 2023; $50,000,000 for FY 2024; $65,000,000 for FY 2025; $80,000,000 for FY 2026; and $80,000,000 for FY 2027 for these activities. It directs the Secretary to establish a high-performance computation collaborative research program and an associated innovation center in high-performance computing for fusion. It directs the construction of the Material Plasma Exposure Experiment including $21,895,000 for FY 2023 and $3,800,000 for FY 2024 to carry out the project. The subsection also authorizes an upgrade to the Matter in Extreme Conditions endstation at the Linac Coherent Light Source. Subsection (a) authorizes a total of $1,025,500,400 for FY 2023; $1,043,489,724 for FY 2024; $1,053,266,107 for FY 2025; $1,047,962,074 for FY 2026; and $1,114,187,798 for FY 2027 for the Fusion Energy Sciences Program.
Subsection (b) amends section 972 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16312) by authorizing $379,700,000 for FY 2023; $419,250,000 for FY 2024; $415,000,000 for FY 2025; $370,500,000 for FY 2026; and $411,078,000 for FY 2027 for construction of the ITER international fusion project.