MORRIS COUNTY — Senator Joe Pennacchio wants to help New Jersey become a global leader in clean, renewable fusion energy, and his resolution seeking federal funding for fusion research was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
“New Jersey is perfectly positioned to play a crucial role in bringing the promise of fusion energy to fruition and changing the way the world generates power,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “Our state is the home of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and a growing ecosystem of ambitious start-up companies determined to make fusion power a reality. Investment from the federal government aligned with some sensible moves by the State to support this promising industry could yield massive dividends for our residents and New Jersey’s future.”
Pennacchio’s measure (SR-146) calls on Congress and the President to increase federal funding for fusion research.
In May, Pennacchio hosted a symposium with a panel of top experts in physics and fusion energy.
“From what we learned, it is obvious the potential of fusion is limitless,” Pennacchio noted. “The promise of a super clean, reliable, and affordable energy solution is within reach. 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.”
Current nuclear power plants create 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, on the other hand, 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 because accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are impossible. Fusion is cleaner, too, producing only a fraction of the waste nuclear fission produces.
“For years, people have assumed the promise of fusion was decades in the future, but some experts believe it could become a reality in as little as five years,” Pennacchio said. “Just as California has its Silicon Valley, New Jersey could have its Fusion Epicenter if we play our cards right.”
Pennacchio’s resolution is just one of a series of fusion-related bills the senator sponsored in September:
- (S-3946) Includes fusion within the definition of 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. Enacted in 1999, the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act fundamentally changed the way residential and commercial consumers of electricity pay for their services. It separates the cost of generating and supplying power from the cost of delivering it. Under this bill, consumers would be able to purchase fusion energy when it becomes available.
- (S-4045) Establishes a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the field of fusion science. Under the program, the state will award ten 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-4073) 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 this 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-4074) Requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (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 in the State and to attract fusion technology businesses to the State. Requires the EDA to provide technical and financial assistance to fusion technology businesses considering locating in New Jersey and to invest moneys from business assistance programs administered by the EDA, as may be available.
- (S-4075) Establishes the NJ Fusion Technology Industry Commission. The commission is to consist of the following nine members: the Secretary of Higher Education; the chair of the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology; the Executive Director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; two members from NJ colleges and four public members with a background in fusion. The bill requires the commission to be responsible for the development and oversight of policies and programs in fusion energy and technology development in New Jersey and report annually to the Governor and Legislature.