On Thursday, September 9, 2021 the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology passed legislation that would invest in new scientific infrastructure, new clean energy research initiatives, and new innovative demonstration programs. Fusion energy research and development featured strongly in the Committee's legislation, and there was discussion about fusion's importance during the markup.
This legislation provides landmark investments into fusion energy over the next decade. In total, the House Science Committee bill includes $2.8 billion for Fusion Energy-related projects and research, including:
$1.325B for U.S. Contributions to ITER
$212.3M for the Matter in Extreme Conditions Upgrade Upgrade at SLAC
$59.2M for the Material Plasma Exposure Experiment
$250M for Fusion Materials Research and Development
$140M for Inertial Fusion Research and Development
$275M for Alternative and Enabling Fusion Energy Concepts
$325M for the Milestone-Based Fusion Energy Development Program
$250M for Fusion Reactor System Design
Of particular interest and note to the members of the Fusion Industry Association is the addition of $325 million for a public-private partnership program, passed in law as a "Milestone-Based Fusion Energy Development Program" that directs the Secretary of Energy to develop a performance-based cost share program to support the development of fusion energy in the United States. More detail about the FIA's ongoing advocacy for this program is available on our website.
The FIA and its members are pleased to see this new investment into fusion energy in the United States. However, our analysis indicates that the fusion industry could support a program of $1 billion, not $325 million. While we understand that every budget includes tradeoffs and difficult decisions, a reduced-sized program will only result in missed opportunities for scientific advances, reduced private investment, and the loss of projects to overseas competitors. FIA members are unified in support of a $1 billion program, and will continue to advocate for an increased level of funding through other venues.
The FIA would like to to thank the Members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for their support to new investments into fusion, particularly the Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnston, the Chair of the Fusion Energy Caucus Don Beyer, and Representatives Lofgren, McNerney, Ross, and Sherrill for speaking in favor of fusion. While support for fusion research is generally bipartisan, the nature of the reconciliation process is partisan, so there was little opportunity for the minority to express their support for fusion research.
You can watch the markup through the Science Committee, and embedded below.