DOE explores cost-sharing program for fusion reactors

April 29, 2020, 1:20PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is inviting input on its plan to develop a cost-share program in fusion reactor technologies. A request for information was published in the Federal Register, inviting interested parties to comment on the topical areas, program objectives, eligibility requirements, program organization and structure, public and private roles and responsibilities, funding modalities, and assessment criteria of such an initiative.

Why it’s important: Recognizing the recent surge in interest and investments by the private sector in the development of fusion energy, the DOE Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Science (FES) program has been exploring partnership initiatives to leverage the private sector efforts, with the objective of accelerating progress toward the realization of fusion energy and solidifying U.S. leadership in this critical energy technology of the future, the DOE said.

This latest initiative builds on the FES’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program, which was modeled after the DOE’s successful Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) voucher program. It provides private companies access to the expertise and facilities of the DOE’s national laboratories to overcome critical scientific and technological hurdles in pursuing the development of fusion energy systems. Unlike the INFUSE program, however, this latest program would provide direct funding to private-sector companies under a performance-based, milestone-driven approach. The DOE said that it is also exploring the establishment of a public-private partnership cost-share program in fusion reactor technologies.

Comments: The DOE noted that it is looking for input about how best to create a public benefit through expanding partnerships with the private sector in the field of fusion energy. It also stated that the RFI is not an announcement of an intention or an interest in procuring goods and services. Comments on the RFI are being accepted until May 15 and can be submitted via the federal rulemaking website, with a search for FRDoc. 2020-08312.

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