" one has to wonder if taking away a little bit from fusion research and giving it to research for batteries and renewables might be a better use of limited resources."
Probably not. Battery research is already getting a huge amount of funding from commercial sources. Every cell phone, laptop, tablet, and power tool maker is putting money into batteries. All the incentives for development are already in place for batteries. Frankly the problems with improved batteries is one of chemistry and physics at this point and not one of funding.