Fusion energy comes from the binding of two atoms that are forced together. This process emits massive quantities of energy that can potentially be utilized to solve global energy needs, without pollution, sourcing issues, and greenhouse gas emissions. However, the effort to contain this reaction currently makes this process untenable.
The United States has historically been an economic and scientific global leader, and investment in fusion development will ensure that the U.S. continues this trend of leadership. Andrew also stresses that some of the most exciting developments for fusion are coming from the private sector. Venture capitol money is being channeled into fusion energy at the ten year time horizon.
Fusion energy faces a series of challenges. Andrew focuses on how the long term timeline of utilizing fusion energy makes funding an issue. MIT, a leading innovator developing smaller and more cost efficient fusion reactors, faces this funding issue. In addition, the Department of Energy’s Fusion Program is research based, so instead of building a reactor, the D.O.E is focusing on researching plasma (a key component of fusion reactor efficiency). Slowly, funding opportunities are becoming more available, particularly $1 billion dollars in venture capital provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The tone of the new administration is going to decide how much support fusion energy will receive from the government. For Andrew, a political constituency has to be built to support fusion energy at the high levels of government if the U.S. is committed to asserting leadership in this area of energy technology and to minimizing future energy security threats.
Andrew Holland is the American Security Project’s Director of Studies and Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate. As an expert on energy, climate change, and infrastructure policy, he has worked at the center of debates about how to achieve sustainable energy security and how to effectively address climate change for the last decade.
He served as Legislative Assistant on Energy, Environment, and Infrastructure for United States Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska for three years from 2006 through 2008. He worked in the US House of Representatives for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Office of Congresswoman Roukema.
He holds a Master’s Degree in International Strategy and Economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Economics from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
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