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Fusion's Hill future

Illustration of a road leading to a glowing atom on the horizon

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The CEO of one of the biggest fusion players wants Congress to pursue a policy and funding bill to get the technology off the ground.

Why it matters: Think of it as a CHIPS Act for fusion that could build on the fusion programs that lawmakers have traditionally funded through the annual appropriations process.

Driving the news: Commonwealth Fusion Systems' Bob Mumgaard says there's an opportunity to "make real change" in the fusion space via multibillion-dollar legislation.

  • There's tons of enthusiasm about the technology on the Hill, and Congress increased spending on fusion to record levels — roughly $1.5 billion — in this year's approps cycle.
  • But where that money goes "looks the same as it did about 10 years ago, and that's because the program really hasn't evolved yet," Mumgaard told Axios at the Fusion Industry Association's annual conference.
  • Mumgaard and others in the industry want to see more money focused on materials science and commercialization efforts — like the milestone-based program that has already benefited CFS and other companies.

Zoom in: The CHIPS Act authorized — but didn't fund — a suite of fusion research programs.

  • Mumgaard's talking about fully underwriting those programs and funding, for example, tests for the super-specialized materials that private companies need to complete their designs.

Our thought bubble: It's a tough environment for serious legislation. So fusion companies will need to spend time building a coalition.

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