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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a strategy aimed at accelerating the viability of commercial fusion energy in partnership with the private sector. The department also announced USD180 million to support fusion research at an event in Washington, DC.

(Image: DOE)

In March 2022, the US government announced the US Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy and launched a department-wide initiative to develop a strategy for accelerating the viability of commercial fusion energy in partnership with the private sector.

The newly released DOE Fusion Energy Strategy 2024 is organised around three pillars: closing the science and technology gaps to a commercially relevant fusion pilot plant; preparing the path to sustainable, equitable commercial fusion deployment; and building and leveraging external partnerships.

In support of DOE's fusion energy strategy, the department has also announced a USD180 million funding opportunity for Fusion Innovative Research Engine (FIRE) Collaboratives. These collaboratives are aimed at supporting the further creation of a fusion innovation ecosystem by forming teams that will have a collective goal of bridging the Department's Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) programme's foundational and enabling science research with the needs of the growing fusion industry, including the technology roadmaps of the awardees of the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. It said these collaboratives are envisioned as "dynamic hubs of innovation" to help bolster US-based manufacturing and supply chains, driving advancements in fusion energy research in collaboration with both public and private entities.

The FIRE Collaboratives Funding Opportunity Announcement, sponsored by the FES programme within the DOE's Office of Science, is open to accredited US colleges and universities, national laboratories, non-profit organisations, and private companies.

The DOE has also made a number of other announcements in moving toward implementation in support of the US Bold Decadal Vision. It has released a new FES vision entitled Building Bridges, through which FES will develop a national fusion science and technology (S&T) roadmap "to address the 'how' and 'when' of closing critical S&T gaps to commercially relevant fusion pilot plants".

The department has also announced that all eight selectees signed agreements to be participants in the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, which is designed to catalyse further private investments into fusion commercialisation and helps companies resolve critical-path scientific, technological, and commercialisation challenges on the path toward a pilot-scale demonstration of fusion energy.

In addition, DOE released a Request for Information on a proposed Fusion Energy Public-Private Consortium Framework (PPCF). The PPCF aims to complement the Milestone Program and FIRE Collaboratives by catalysing and bringing together state/local government, private, philanthropic funding, as well as new partnerships, to accelerate fusion commercialisation.

"With today's announcements, DOE has shown once again that we are ambitiously implementing our US Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy," said DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk. "We will leverage the opportunities enabled by our world-leading public and private fusion leadership, including humanity's first-ever demonstration of fusion ignition at our National Ignition Facility as well as major new advances in technologies such as high-temperature superconductors, advanced materials, and artificial intelligence to accelerate fusion energy. The development of fusion energy as a clean, safe, abundant energy source has become a global race, and the US will stay in the lead."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 08 June 2024
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