The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released its Fusion Energy Strategy 2024, a department-wide initiative to develop a plan for accelerating the viability of commercial fusion energy in partnership with the private sector.

The strategy is organised around three pillars: closing the science and technology (S&T) gaps to a commercially relevant fusion pilot plant; preparing the path to sustainable, equitable commercial fusion deployment; and building and leveraging external partnerships. 

DOE deputy secretary David Turk: “We will leverage the opportunities enabled by our world-leading public and private fusion leadership, including [the]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.” 

In support of the strategy, DOE has also announced a $180 million funding opportunity for Fusion Innovative Research Engine (FIRE) Collaboratives. The FIRE 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 Programme.

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

As part of its Building Bridges vision, FES will develop a national fusion S&T roadmap to address the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of closing critical S&T gaps to commercially relevant fusion pilot plants.

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

DOE has released a Request for Information on a proposed Fusion Energy Public-Private Consortium Framework. 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.