On May 28, 2021, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, along with the Science Subcommittee on Energy Chairman and Ranking Members, Jamaal Bowman and Randy Weber introduced the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act. This bill provides authorization of new funding and policy in the Department of Energy’s research programs, last addressed by Congress in the Energy Act of 2020 within the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Within the Fusion Energy Sciences program, the bill proposes increased funding. It presents guidance for the authorization of new experiments prioritized in the FESAC report like the Materials Plasma Exposure Experiment and the Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument Upgrade. The bill authorized new fusion energy research activities, particularly supporting a milestone-based public-private partnership program and new programs on alternatives, enabling concepts, and inertial fusion energy.
The FIA appreciates that this bill acknowledges the importance of the private sector, stating that the Secretary of Energy should prioritize, “Using expertise from the private sector, institutions of higher education, and the National Laboratories to leverage existing, and develop new, computational software and capabilities that prospective users may use to accelerate research and development of fusion energy systems.” The act maintains that these tools should then be made available to those within the fusion private sector.
The FIA is pleased to support this bill and looks forward to gaining more support for the fusion industry in both the public and private sectors. Passage of this bill would support the development of fusion energy in the United States. The details of H.R.3593 can be found through the House Science Committee webpage, and a summary provided by the committee is embedded below.
On June 15, the bill was marked up with an amendment from Representative Don Beyer.
Within 180 days of enactment of the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act, the Director shall establish at least 2 national teams, including public-private partnerships, that will develop conceptual pilot plant designs and technology roadmaps and lead to an engineering design of a pilot plant that will bring fusion to commercial viability.
This amendment received outward support from Representative Lucas and Representative McNerney. HR 3593 was passed to the floor with Representative Beyer's amendment included.