America on a new fast track to fusion energy

The giant appropriations bill signed by US President Donald Trump on December 27 contains a little-noticed section that sets the goal of creating a full-fledged fusion industry, a new industrial sector centered on the commercialization of nuclear fusion as an energy source.

The envisioned model is the successful public-private partnership that built up America’s commercial space industry. In an exclusive interview with Asia Times, Fusion Industry Association director Andrew Holland tells the inside story to correspondent Jonathan Tenennbaum.

JT: What do you see as the essence of the fusion amendment and what do you think people should know about it?

AH: It makes it an express goal of the Department of Energy to produce energy. It provides a goal of building a cost-competitive fusion power plant and establishing a competitive fusion power industry in the United States. It authorizes new research programs along this pathway.

Some in Congress were concerned that the ITER program [the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor now being built in France] was going down just one pathway and was leaving behind what are called alternative concepts, as well as inertial fusion energy [e.g. laser fusion].