Senate Passes Pennacchio Resolution Urging Federal Support for Development of Fusion Energy
Senator has vision of NJ as epicenter for renewable, safe fusion power
Senator Joe Pennacchio’s resolution urging Congress and the President to increase federal funding for fusion research was endorsed today by the Senate.
“New Jersey is positioned to become a global leader in clean, renewable fusion energy,” said Senator Pennacchio (R-26). “Investment from the federal government aligned with some sensible state leadership to support this promising industry could yield massive dividends for our residents and New Jersey’s future.”
Pennacchio’s measure (SR-14) calls on Washington to support the research and development of fusion, emphasizing its promise as an inexpensive, sustainable, and environmentally friendly energy source.
“As the home of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and a growing ecosystem of ambitious start-up companies determined to make fusion power a reality, our state can play a crucial role bringing the potential of fusion energy to fruition,” Pennacchio noted. “This could change the way the world generates power, and deliver tremendous economic and environmental benefit.”
Nuclear power plants generate power through fission, a process that splits a uranium isotope to start a chain reaction. Both the fuel and the waste are highly radioactive.
Fusion, in contrast, is a nuclear reaction occurring when two light nuclei smash together and fuse, creating a heavier nucleus and releasing energy in the process. Fusion is safe. Accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are impossible. Fusion is cleaner, too, producing only a fraction of the waste nuclear fission produces.
“California has cashed in on its Silicon Valley. If we play our cards right, New Jersey could reap similar rewards as a fusion epicenter,” said Pennacchio. “People have assumed the promise of fusion was a dream, decades in the future. Experts, however, believe it could become a reality in as little as five years.”
A year ago, Pennacchio hosted a symposium with a panel of top experts in physics and fusion energy.
“From what we learned, the promise of a super clean, reliable, and affordable energy solution is within reach,” said Pennacchio. “It is obvious fusion’s potential is limitless. If we are truly committed to developing a sustainable, environmentally friendly energy source, we can get this done with a financial push from Washington.
“Fusion energy is a clean safe source of renewable energy that can be supported by both Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and the business community.”
Pennacchio’s resolution is just one of a series of fusion-related bills the senator sponsors:
- S-296 was passed Senate in February and establishes a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the field of fusion science. Under the program, the state will award 10 scholarships annually in the amount of $12,500 each to qualified recipients. Each scholarship awarded will be contingent upon the recipient receiving an equal scholarship from their institution of higher education. Recipients must remain in good standing at the institution.
- S-295 includes fusion as a Class I renewable energy as defined in the “Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act.” Other Class I renewable energies include energy produced from solar technologies, wind energy, etc. Under this bill, consumers would be able to purchase fusion energy when it becomes available.
- S-297 provides that fusion energy and fusion technology companies are eligible to receive benefits under certain economic incentive programs. Under the bill, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is required to adopt rules and regulations for the administration of economic incentive programs to provide that any reference or stipulation under a program related to the development or production of renewable energy, the development of emerging technologies, or to the expansion of targeted industries in the state connected to the award of a benefit or incentive to a company is deemed to include the development or production of fusion energy or fusion technology in this State.
- S-298 requires EDA, in consultation with the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology, to establish a Fusion Technology Industry Development Program to promote the fusion technology industry and attract fusion technology businesses to the state.
- S-299 establishes the 11-member NJ Fusion Technology Industry Commission to be responsible for the development and oversight of policies and programs in fusion energy and technology development in New Jersey. The commission would report annually to the Governor and Legislature.