The US Department of Energy will announce the first round of awardees of the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program on Wednesday, May 31 at 2pm ET via live-stream (embedded video below).
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) Director Arati Prabhakar, DOE Under Secretary for Science and Innovation Geraldine Richmond, and DOE Office of Science Director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe will give remarks.
The program is the latest in a series of efforts aligning public and private sectors toward fusion commercialization. In March 2022, the White House held a Fusion Summit that laid out a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy. A few months later, the White House listed “Fusion Energy At Scale” as one of five key priorities in the White House Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative, citing commercial fusion energy’s potential to “deliver abundant, clean, reliable electricity and many other benefits.”
“This innovative new public-private partnership brings together the vibrant U.S. fusion private sector community and the nation’s solutions department to resolve key scientific and technological challenges that must be overcome to realize fusion pilot plants in the next decade… With strong support from Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) is following through on this vision with bold steps forward in our support for fusion energy science and technology.”US Department of Energy Office of Science Announcement
Modeled in part after the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) cost share program that allowed for the space propulsion industry to rapidly grow in recent years, this program is key for accelerating public-private collaboration. Furthermore, the fusion program protects the tax-payer through its own cost-share element; private companies match 100% of the award, and only receive the commensurate funding when each milestone is met.
This first round of funding for the milestone program was highly anticipated, and largely oversubscribed by applicants, with an FIA survey showing enough quality applications that would allow for a program 3X in size, at least. The Fusion Industry Association is very supportive of the program, and urges its expansion in coming years to support the ever-growing fusion industry.