US House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2020 Fusion Funding Bill

May 22, 2019

The Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives has approved a Fiscal Year 2020 bill that funds the US Department of Energy, including its Office of Fusion Energy Sciences and its Inertial Confinement Fusion program within its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

For the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences the bill would provide a total of $688 million compared to $564 million in FY 2019 and $403 million proposed by the President (see FPN19-11). Within the total, $458 million would be for the domestic fusion program and $230 million would be for the US contribution to the international ITER construction project, compared to $432 million and $132 million respectively in FY 2019 and $296 million and $107 million respectively requested by the President. The House bill must eventually be reconciled with a similar bill in the Senate and signed by the President before becoming law. Fiscal Year 2020 begins October 1, 2019.

Report language accompanying the bill is as follows:


The Fusion Energy Sciences program supports basic research and experimentation aiming to harness nuclear fusion for energy production. Research.-- Within available funds, the recommendation provides $20,000,000 for High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, including activities for LaserNetUS. Within available funds, the recommendation includes $4,000,000 for the Department to create a Fusion Public-Private Partnership Program to advance new U.S.-based fusion capabilities. The Department is directed to brief the Committee not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act on this program's technical objectives, eligibility requirements, and funding profile in future fiscal years. The Department is reminded that all activities within this program must be basic research and development.

The recommendation includes $21,000,000 for the Materials Plasma Exposure eXperiment.

ITER Construction.-- The Committee recommends $230,000,000 for the U.S. contribution to the ITER project. The Committee continues to believe the ITER project represents an important step forward for energy sciences and has the potential to revolutionize the current understanding of fusion energy.

Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and High Yield

The recommendation provides $565,000,000, $20,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 level. Within the ICF program, the recommendation includes $344,000,000 for the National Ignition Facility, $66,900,000 for the Z Facility, and not less than $80,000,000 for the OMEGA Laser Facility. The recommendation includes additional funding to offset the cost of target fabrication.

The Committee notes that the NNSA has undertaken an internal review regarding the status of ignition within the ICF program. However, the Committee believes it is necessary for an independent, comprehensive review to assess the prospects of achieving ignition for stockpile stewardship. The Committee directs the NNSA to charge the JASON Defense Advisory Panel to conduct an independent review of the ICF program's pursuit of ignition for stockpile stewardship. The review shall assess the value and effectiveness of ignition science activities needed to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile and as a pipeline to recruit highly skilled expertise. If it is determined that ignition science activities are necessary to maintain the nuclear stockpile, the review shall recommend and prioritize research areas that would improve the ICF program's pursuit of ignition. The assessment shall be completed and provided to the Committee not later than September 2020 and shall include an unclassified summary.