Manchin Holds Hearing On Commercialization of Fusion Energy

September 15, 2022

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here and here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the federal government’s role in supporting the commercialization of fusion energy. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, discussed the importance of investing in fusion energy research, like the work at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), promoting international collaboration and the benefits for energy security.

“Domestically fusion research is at a critical inflection point. Private fusion companies are preparing to demonstrate their technologies. Our national labs have hit significant milestones and private capital has been generously invested in the promise of technology…To further support and direct fusion and plasma research and development, Congress passed the Energy Act of 2020, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. These laws provide direction to DOE to fully support the U.S. contribution to ITER and pursue innovative fusion concepts and establish a milestone based development program to design and build a pilot fusion plant,” said Chairman Manchin.

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin questioned the witnesses about the “Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy” and the benefits of fusion research advances for materials and supply chains.

Chairman Manchin asked, “The Energy Act of 2020 and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 provided the Department of Energy with direction to aggressively pursue the development of fusion research and technology development…in April, the White House held a summit on developing a bold decadal vision for commercial fusion energy, which resulted in three new initiatives. The first was announcement of Department of Energy agency-wide fusion initiative to accelerate the viability of commercial fusion. The second was naming you, you Dr. Hsu, as the lead fusion coordinator, and the last was making available $50 million for advancing a fusion pilot plant. Can you provide the committee with an update on what's going on and where the bold decadal vision of commercial fusion lies?”

Chairman Manchin also asked, “We all know that fusion reactors require strong magnets, very cold temperatures achieve with liquid helium and vast computational power. Many of the technologies that we have developed have required entirely new fields of materials, science processes, achieving design specifications needed for commercialization…Do you know of any examples of the major advances that fusion research has brought in relation to materials and supply chains in the market today?”

The hearing featured witnesses from the U.S. Department of Energy, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, ITER Organization, Commonwealth Fusion Systems. To read their testimony, click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.