President's FY 2021 Budget Request for Fusion Energy Sciences

February 13, 2020

President Trump has submitted his Fiscal Year 2021 budget request to Congress. The submittal includes his budget request for the US Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. FY 2021 begins on October 1, 2020. The Department of Energy Budget documents can be found at https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/02/f71/doe-fy2021-budget-volume-4.pdf

For the Fusion Energy Sciences program, he requests $425M compared to the current FY 2020 appropriation of $671M, a reduction of 36.6 percent. The requested amount includes $107M for ITER hardware (but none for the cash contribution) compared to $242M (for both hardware and cash contribution) in the current fiscal year 2020. The President also proposes to eliminate ARPA-E entirely. ARPA-E has been funding some small efforts in fusion for the past several years.

The President's request includes the following statement on Fusion Energy Sciences:

Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) supports research to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. The FES Request of $425.151 million is a decrease of $245.849 million, or 36.6 percent, below the FY 2020 Enacted. The Request prioritizes keeping SC fusion user facilities world-leading, investing in FES-related high-performance computing and preparing for exascale, exploring the potential of QIS and AI/ML, supporting high-impact research in fusion materials, strengthening collaborations that enable access to international facilities with unique capabilities, learning how to predict and control transient events in fusion plasmas, continuing stewardship of discovery plasma science including microelectronics-relevant low-temperature plasma science, and increasing partnership opportunities with the private sector. FES investments in DIII-D facility research and operations focus on utilizing the facility enhancements implemented during the FY 2018 - FY 2019 Long Torus Opening; the Request supports 13 weeks of research operations, which is 65 percent of optimal operations, along with machine improvements needed for new research capabilities.

In FY 2021, the NSTX-U facility is down for recovery and repair; the Request for NSTX-U Operations will support high-priority activities to implement repairs and corrective actions required to achieve research operations, as well as to increase machine reliability. In addition, the Request includes funding for enhanced collaborative research at other facilities to support NSTX-U research program priorities. In FY 2021, the FES SciDAC portfolio, in partnership with ASCR, will continue to address challenges in burning plasma science, with emphasis on integration and whole-device modeling capability, as well as strengthening readiness for the Exascale era. In addition, research efforts focusing on emerging technologies with transformational potential, such as AI/ML and computing aspects of QIS, will be enhanced. The FY 2021 Request will continue support for leveraged research opportunities by U.S. scientists on international superconducting tokamaks, stellarators, and other facilities with unique capabilities, and core discovery plasma science experiments on intermediate-scale collaborative facilities. The Request also supports research conducted on medium scale laser facilities through the LaserNetUS network, and explores research opportunities of high energy density science for QIS.

Funding is requested for the Materials-Plasma Exposure eXperiment MIE project, which is expected to be baselined in FY 2021, and will be a world-leading facility for steady-state, high-heat-flux testing of fusion materials. The Request supports the initiation of a line-item construction project for a significant upgrade to the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument at the LCLS facility at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to support research in high energy density laboratory plasmas. The FY 2021 Request includes funding for continued design and fabrication of the highest priority "in-kind" hardware systems for ITER.