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Commonwealth Fusion Systems Signs $15 Million DOE Agreement To Advance Commercial Fusion Energy

Jun 6, 2024

DEVENS, Mass.June 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy worth $15 million to meet research and development goals leading to commercial fusion power. The funding is part of the first phase of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program to advance this critical new energy technology and to ensure U.S. leadership in the global race to develop it.

CFS was among eight fusion companies DOE selected in 2023 to receive a total of $46 million through the Milestone program. The program is a key element in support of the Administration’s Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy and the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative. DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk announced the CFS agreement signing today at an event marking the second anniversary of the Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy.

At the event, CFS Chief Executive and Co-Founder Bob Mumgaard joined Turk and Justina Gallegos, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, along with other fusion company executives, researchers, and Biden Administration officials.

“The Milestone program is a key tool to accelerate the fusion industry’s growth from research projects to operating power plants. Its incentives can help us keep moving step by step toward our goal of building our first fusion power plant by the early 2030s,” Mumgaard said. “Clean, abundant fusion energy will help the country reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

The program is similar to NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which pioneered the milestone-based approach that successfully led the U.S. private spaceflight industry to rebuild the country’s manned spaceflight abilities. Because pre-agreed funding amounts are released only when companies reach their pre-agreed milestones, it means taxpayers don’t have to bear any technical and financial risks. Companies also must invest some of their own money into the Milestone work.

The Milestone program is paired with another recently announced program called the Fusion Innovation Research Engine (FIRE) collaboratives, which is designed to help universities and National Labs investigate technology that is key to fusion commercialization. Fusion company partners will also cooperate in these collaborations. FIRE and Milestone are intended to work together to advance fusion science and enable fusion power deployment.

“After decades of primarily supporting only scientific projects, federal fusion funding priorities now also include the practical needs of a new industry that will disrupt the way we think about and use energy,” Mumgaard said. “I can’t emphasize enough how important that broader mindset is to the fight against climate change.”

Fusion, the process that powers the sun, can supply round-the-clock power with virtually unlimited fuel. At its Massachusetts headquarters, CFS is building a machine called SPARC that will use powerful electromagnets to heat up and squeeze a plasma of hydrogen ions until fusion occurs. CFS will finish SPARC assembly and commissioning by the end of 2025, with first plasma expected in 2026 and net fusion energy shortly thereafter. SPARC will pave the way to the company’s first power plant, ARC, which is expected to deliver power to the grid in the early 2030s.

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