President Biden has taken tremendous action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad. The United States is expanding domestic and global efforts to leverage market forces, inclusive technological innovation, and investments to accelerate the next generation of clean energy technology breakthroughs, including fusion energy. These technologies will help us meet our individual and collective carbon reduction goals, ensure energy security and resilience, and advance economic development.
For more than 60 years, the international fusion research and development (R&D) community has enjoyed a strong collaborative tradition that has advanced the science and technology of fusion. International cooperation is critical for fusion energy to reach its potential as an abundant source of sustainable clean energy, potentially lifting more than a billion people out of energy poverty. In March 2022, the United States announced a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy that recognized fusion energy’s increasing technical readiness and strong market interest and included a direction to explore new international collaborations to accelerate the development of fusion energy.
Private investments in fusion companies around the world have totaled $6 billion to-date. The rise in private fusion investments and growing interest in fusion commercialization reinforce the need for global engagement to resolve research challenges and develop international supply chains and workforces. International engagements promote and facilitate effective public-private partnerships around the world. In addition, timely commercial fusion deployment will benefit from early international coordination on regulatory frameworks and policy implementation to facilitate fusion’s market entry. As we continue to engage in scientific R&D and progress toward demonstration and commercialization, we are entering a new era in which open scientific research is crucial alongside strong intellectual property protections and enforcement.
The United States has identified the following five overarching goals where we invite international engagement and partnerships:
Identify and pursue opportunities for international cooperation or partnerships on fusion R&D, and enable access to or shared development of key infrastructure
International collaborations foster innovation and advance fusion science and supporting technologies. These technologies accelerate efforts toward fusion demonstration and commercialization. Accordingly, we plan to build upon our existing bilateral partnerships and multilateral projects, such as ITER, while exploring new cooperative opportunities to accelerate commercial fusion goals, protect joint innovations, and impart equitable benefits to collaborators. In addition, the United States intends to engage with global partners to help resolve remaining research challenges through collective action that includes:
- Promoting cooperation and competition with strong intellectual property protections and enforcement for international bilateral, multilateral, and/or public-private partnerships;
- Opening access or sharing development of costly experimental fusion and test facilities to address critical scientific and technological gaps while accelerating progress toward fusion demonstration and commercialization;
- Adopting appropriate technology protection and incentives to safeguard against predatory economic practices; and
- Sharing data frameworks that leverage advanced data science which can also serve as key enabling infrastructure for advancing fusion science and technology.
Grow the future global marketplace
Realizing fusion as a global clean energy source depends on our ability to translate decades of investments in fusion R&D into deployed commercial technologies. Fusion developers intend to export fusion facilities globally. Global engagement is necessary to understand different commercial landscapes. The United States intends to work with global partners to facilitate fusion’s market entry across these different landscapes by:
- Identifying supporting technologies, manufacturing capabilities, and infrastructure that are essential for fusion energy development including mapping current and anticipated global supply chains to identify and access high-value first markets;
- Exploring common frameworks for benchmarks and standards;
- Building engagements with relevant industry bodies, consortia, and non-governmental organizations that can help us understand and respond to commercial and community engagement needs; and
- Enabling multinational companies to benefit and develop positive applications from key technologies developed outside their home country.
Coordinate on regulatory frameworks that create a secure environment for fusion energy
For fusion to be a global commercial industry, it must be possible for companies to export fusion technologies and fuel supplies. It will be beneficial to coordinate internationally as individual nations develop their domestic fusion regulatory frameworks, consistent with the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation. The United States intends to promote early international coordination on regulatory frameworks and policy implementation to pave the way for timely commercial fusion deployment through:
- Comparing experiences with key partner countries and international organizations to establish common positions on technical and policy issues to support the harmonization of fusion-regulatory and export-control frameworks;
- Developing capacity building efforts to potential newcomers through workshops, webinars, technical consultancies, and site visits. Competencies may include security, safety, licensing, regulation, site selection and characterization expertise; workforce development; stakeholder engagement; and planning for waste management; and
- Coordinating internationally on appropriate security and nonproliferation frameworks for fusion energy, commensurate with the prospect of large-scale, global, commercial deployment of a diverse set of fusion energy technologies.
Foster and strengthen a diverse and global workforce pipeline
Building a strong and diverse fusion technical workforce is required to accelerate fusion research, development, demonstration, and commercial deployment on an aggressive timescale. The global nature of knowledge and talent in R&D for fusion requires developing and expanding pathways to strengthen the global talent pipeline and to support pathways that enable talent mobility and flow into nations aspiring to deploy fusion energy. The United States intends to work with global partners on workforce needs by:
- Sharing knowledge on best practices, educational resources, and methods to monitor and assess outcomes—at international conferences, workshops, and other venues—that can help countries build a strong fusion energy talent base;
- Facilitating student and professional exchanges to enable mutual learning from different and complementary fusion ecosystems;
- Building a diverse and inclusive fusion workforce to enable broad participation in this emerging field; and
- Deploying modern training programs through public-private partnerships that support both short-term and long-term talent development.
Improve public education and engagement in fusion energy
As fusion is a new, complex technology still in the development phase, proactive public engagement will be essential to build public understanding, trust, and a social license for fusion development, demonstration, and deployment as a clean and abundant energy source. Developing, demonstrating, and deploying fusion energy must center on the core goals of protecting public health, safety, and the environment. The United States intends to work with partner countries to share public engagement activities and identify best practices for discussing both the benefits and risks of fusion energy including:
- Leveraging international bodies and multi-country meetings, such as the annual UN Climate Change Conference, ITER, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Energy Agency, and burgeoning grassroots activities as venues for positive public engagement and to frame fusion energy as a climate and energy security solution;
- Engaging public and private stakeholders to build understanding of the unique benefits and risks of fusion technology; and
- Engaging energy and environmental justice organizations around the world to advance inclusive innovation throughout the development process to ensure that fusion benefits all communities.