Fusion Funding Cuts
Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor.
A few weeks ago President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. This proposal carries cuts to many scientific programs. Programs under threat include several fusion research efforts. Cuts might delay ITER construction funding. Yet, smaller programs could feel the impact most.
The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), which houses one of the most powerful lasers in the US, has slammed what it calls “potentially devastating” budget cuts threatened by the Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2019. University interim president designate Richard Feldman defending LLE released the following statement:
The University was disappointed to learn that the Administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes a significant cut to the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) in FY19 and “a three-year ramp-down” in federal support. We are trying to make sense of this proposal, which jeopardizes the cutting-edge science and world-class education being conducted at the Lab.
Spending for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is set at $2.04 billion for the current fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. Last year, the administration asked for st $636.1 million, a decline of more than two-thirds, although Congress did not implement the request. For 2019, the administration’s draft proposal would lower that request even further, to $575.5 million.
Like last year, congress will ultimately set the spending amounts. Lobbying congress will likely occur in the following months to override the recommendations from the white house. The current attitude from the current US administration emphasizes the importance of private money backing so many fusion efforts. This trend was recently highlighted in a recent Forbes piece by Ken Silverstein. FocusFusion.org covered this trend as well. In case some of these cuts come through, new Fusion research funding sources will have to be found. In particular, LPPFusion’s successful WeFunder campaign will carry that project into new testing territory. Testing with new beryllium electrodes will begin. More record breaking results for LPPFusion should come from these trials.