Kinkead hosts hearing on fusion energy, clean power potential

Lawmakers listen to experts on potential for fusion energy, job possibilities

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 9 – Experts testified before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee today detailing the numerous benefits of fusion power and its potential to drive job creation as well as offer consumers a clean baseload energy source.

“I wanted to host this hearing because I wanted to be a part of a conversation with experts to learn about fusion, and – more importantly – understand how Pennsylvania industries could expand with fusion,” state Rep. Emily Kinkead said. “Fusion has the potential to be a clean, sustainable option more closely aligned with renewable energy that could not only be the future for electrical power but also manufacturing and job creation in PA and the U.S.”  

Kinkead, D-Allegheny, hosted the hearing on the low-carbon, clean-energy source that is more powerful than conventional fission energy. Today’s hearing, titled “Powering Pennsylvania: Fusion Energy,” was held at the K&L Gates Center in Pittsburgh.

“We learned about the potential of fusion energy today,” Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said, “and while harnessing electricity through fusion has not yet become a reality, when you are talking about an industry that has the potential of being worth hundreds of billions of dollars and a foundation for the future of U.S. manufacturing, Pennsylvania state lawmakers need to pay attention.”  

The hearing featured a panel of experts in fusion energy.

“It is inherently safer than fission,” testified Matt Moynihan, who has a doctorate in inertial confinement fusion and formerly worked as a senior nuclear engineer at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in Pittsburgh. “Fusion energy sources mean no meltdowns, no long-lived nuclear waste and no weapons risks. Importantly, fusion power has major implications for fighting climate change as a clean baseload energy source.”

The fusion industry has the potential to be a new industry driving job creation as well as the potential to be worth tens – if not hundreds – of billions of dollars if a private fusion energy company does something new, Moynihan said. He explained the emerging fusion industry currently consists of about 30 startup companies racing to find a way to harness fusion for electricity. At the moment, a machine can be purchased for about $1 million that can be used for commercial applications and perform fusion for about 132 continuous hours, but it cannot yet harness electricity. 

“The growing fusion supply chain will have benefits outside of the fusion industry,” said Mac Hatch, vice president of strategy at MetOx Technologies – a company that develops high temperature superconducting, or HTS, wire technology. “States like Pennsylvania have an opportunity to take a leading role in this transformation and benefit from the associated jobs and investments that come with it.”

Written testimony from the hearing is available here. A photo gallery from the hearing can be found here. A video of the full hearing can be viewed here.