ARPA-E Announces Fusion Funding Opportunity

November 11, 2019

ARPA-E has put out a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). It states:

“ARPA-E aims to support the development of timely, commercially viable fusion energy.[1] Based on numerous studies examining the cost challenges facing advanced nuclear energy,[2] which shares some attributes with fusion such as unit size, capital cost, and power-generation characteristics, ARPA-E believes that a commercial fusion power plant should target an overnight capital cost (OCC) of <US$2B and <$5/W.[3] If a grid-ready fusion demonstration can be realized within approximately twenty years while satisfying these cost metrics, then, as a firm low-carbon energy source, fusion can contribute to meeting global, growing low-carbon energy demand and cost-effective deep decarbonization[4] in the latter half of the century.”

“This program addresses the need to lower the costs of development and eventual deployment of commercial fusion energy by supporting R&D to increase the performance and number of credible, lower-cost fusion concepts. Full Applications are invited in the three research categories[5] described in Section I.D of the FOA. Criteria and metrics are described in Section I.E of the FOA. The technology-to-market (T2M) component of this program, via a number of planned activities at the project and program levels, aims to build and smooth the path to fusion commercialization to include public, private, and philanthropic partnerships.”

[1] See agenda and posted materials from ARPA-E fusion workshop, Burlingame, CA, Aug. 13-14, 2019.
[2] e.g., The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study, MIT Energy Initiative (2018).
[3] Assuming 10th-of-a-kind for the fusion-specific systems and nth-of-a-kind for the balance of plant.
[4] N. A. Sepulveda et al., “The Role of Firm Low-Carbon Electricity Resources in Deep Decarbonization of Power Generation,” Joule 2, 2403 (2018).
[5] At the recent ARPA-E fusion workshop (see footnote 2), a potential program covering both “lower-cost fusion concept development” and “fusion enabling technologies” was discussed (for the latter, see also ARPA-E Request for Information (RFI) DE-FOA-0002131, released May 6, 2019). Please note that this program, BETHE, covers the former but only a subset of the latter, as described in detail in Section I.D of the FOA. ARPA-E recognizes that serious development of fusion enabling technologies must be initiated as soon as possible to meet the objective of a grid-ready fusion demonstration in 20 years, and is exploring a potential, separate program focused on that topic.

In the full document (see link below) ARPA-E states they expect to award approximately $30 million, subject to the availability of funds, with full applications due January 14, 2020.

Documents BETHE FA FOA (Last Updated: 11/6/2019 06:16 PM ET)