On Thursday, March 9, the White House released their budget request for the 2024 fiscal year, set to begin in October. Within the budget is record funding of over $1 billion for fusion energy research in the Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.
The FIA is pleased that the Biden Administration has recognized the breakthrough potential of fusion energy, and would fund fusion research at $1.01 Billion in 2024. This builds off the record funding enacted by Congress in December for 2023 and reflects the bipartisan consensus in Congress that recent fusion energy breakthroughs in both the public research programs and private companies show that now is the time to make a push for commercialization. The request says it will:
“identify and accelerate novel technologies for clean energy solutions, including a historic $1 billion investment in the acceleration of efforts to achieve fusion, a promising clean energy power source.”
As announcements of specific line-items in the budget are made, we will see that the milestone public-private partnership program is supported with $130 million, up from the $25 million that the program has received in each of the last two years. This new partnership, first announced in September 2022, is slated to support the delivery of fusion pilot plants in a “decadal” timeframe, as outlined at a 2022 White House fusion summit. The DOE expects to make announcements about program participants soon. A survey of the FIA membership indicated that applications to the program were oversubscribed, with enough quality applications for over $2.6 billion in leveraged cost-share requests over the full life of the program. The program’s rapid growth in this budget request sends a strong signal that the Administration is serious about making fusion a new source of clean, safe, sustainable energy in a timeframe that is relevant to the global energy and climate crises.
Funding of over $1 billion for fusion energy is enough to support increased funding for materials research efforts, new fusion test facilities, the critical INFUSE public private partnership, and pathbreaking science. It is important that Congress now takes the next steps to implement this funding request.