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DOE Announces $46 Million for Commercial Fusion Energy Development

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $46 million in funding to eight companies advancing designs and research and development for fusion power plants, representing a major step in President Biden’s commitment to a pilot-scale demonstration of fusion within a decade. Fusion reactions power the stars, and research is underway to make fusion energy production on Earth possible, providing an abundant, inherently safe, non-carbon-emitting energy source for the planet. This funding from the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program will solidify U.S. leadership in fusion commercialization, a gamechanger that would help the United States meet the President’s goal of reaching a net-zero economy by 2050.

“We have generated energy by drawing power from the sun above us. Fusion offers the potential to create the power of the sun right here on Earth,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to partnering with innovative researchers and companies across the country to take fusion energy past the lab and toward the grid.”

“Fusion is a promising technology with the potential to play a transformative role in meeting the urgent need for reliable, carbon-free energy to power our country,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (WA). “It’s exciting to see Washington state once again playing a leading role in the development of clean energy technologies and innovative solutions to help us tackle the climate crisis, and this award will help propel Zap Energy’s fusion research in Everett and Mukilteo.”

“Today marks a pivotal point for advancing U.S. commercial fusion technology with the announcement of the first selections for the new Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. With the passage of the Energy Act of 2020 and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Congress provided clear bipartisan direction and support for the Department of Energy to undertake an ambitious program to develop fusion technologies to be commercially deployable in the next ten years. I am genuinely excited by the potential of fusion energy and technology to transform our future and contribute to our energy and national security,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (WV), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  

“I am very pleased to see this innovative public-private partnership program move forward. This was one of the key fusion energy provisions developed by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee—first authorized in the bipartisan Energy Act of 2020 and extended in the CHIPS and Science Act. These awards will address some of the most critical challenges to the commercialization of fusion energy, and I would like to congratulate all of the awardees for their impressive achievements to date. But we certainly can’t stop here. The recent progress and promise of fusion energy warrant our full support for all of the important fusion energy activities that Congress has enacted and the President has proposed for Fiscal Year 2024, and I will continue to do everything I can to meet that goal,” said U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  

“Commercial fusion energy will revolutionize the energy industry. As the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Fusion Caucus, I am proud to support funding that blends the scientific and technological expertise of the Office of Science and its national laboratories with the innovative approach of the private sector. This is a major step to developing commercial fusion energy that will transform how America meets its energy needs and make our nation the global leader in fusion energy science and technology,” said U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3), Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.  

 “I am glad to see the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program begin its second year of building critical partnerships aimed at bringing fusion energy from our laboratories to powering our homes,” said U.S. Representative Don Beyer (VA-8). “This program presents a remarkable opportunity to harness the combined strength of the U.S. fusion private sector community and the nation’s energy leaders to increase the potential of fusion energy and transform the global energy sector. This collaboration is yet another big win for fusion energy. I commend the Department of Energy for its leadership and vision in supporting this program again and look forward to what the program can help us accomplish.” 

“When I first put pen to paper drafting the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program three years ago, I had today’s announcement in mind,” said U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (MA-3), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Fusion Caucus. “Eight companies, including Commonwealth Fusion Systems right here in Massachusetts, are leading the cutting-edge work being done across the United States to win the race to finally commercialize fusion energy. I’m proud to see this funding being deployed to bolster those efforts, and I look forward to working with Secretary Granholm, members of the bipartisan Congressional Fusion Caucus, and our remarkable researchers to ensure this federal support continues until we unlock this limitless source of clean energy.”

Within five to 10 years, the eight awardees will resolve scientific and technological challenges to create designs for a fusion pilot plant that will help bring fusion to both technical and commercial viability. This program was partially inspired by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program that helped enable commercial space launch.

The awardees are as follows:

  • Commonwealth Fusion Systems (Cambridge, MA)
  • Focused Energy Inc. (Austin, TX)
  • Princeton Stellarators Inc. (Branchburg, NJ)
  • Realta Fusion Inc. (Madison, WI)
  • Tokamak Energy Inc. (Bruceton Mills, WV)
  • Type One Energy Group (Madison, WI)
  • Xcimer Energy Inc. (Redwood City, CA)
  • Zap Energy Inc. (Everett, WA)

This funding is a major step to meeting the Biden Harris Administration’s goals laid out at the March 2022 White House summit on Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy.

In December, researchers at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved fusion ignition and generated more energy from fusion than the input energy to the fuel target. This showed that fusion is a possible source of clean energy for humanity and that fusion science has reached a level of maturity to support the premise of that vision to accelerate efforts in the engineering development of a fusion pilot plant.

Applicants for these awards—selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program—went through a rigorous merit-review process that included evaluation of their scientific, technical, commercialization, and business and financial viabilities. The review also looked at the companies’ plans to support DOE’s efforts in advancing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, whose goal is that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain climate and energy investments flow to disadvantaged communities.

The total funding of $46 million is for the first 18 months, with funds coming from Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. Projects may last up to five years in duration, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations, and continued participation from the teams contingent on satisfactory progress in meeting the negotiated milestones.

Watch the announcement of the funding by Secretary Granholm and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar here.

More information about the projects can be found on the Fusion Energy Sciences Topical Funding Opportunity Awards page.

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