According to management consulting firm Strategy&, nuclear fusion technology could be ready for use in electricity generation within ten to fifteen years. Energy experts at Strategy& say in a new position paper that nuclear fusion could replace fossil energies and help the global energy transition succeed.
Despite cutting-edge research in this area, the study’s authors believe Germany is at risk of being left behind. Strategy& is part of the international audit firm PWC.
“Germany has all the prerequisites to play a leading role in fusion research,” said Christian von Tschirschke, energy expert at Strategy&. The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching and Greifswald and the Helmholtz Centers in Karlsruhe and Jülich were among the most famous research institutes in the world.
Weak financial resources
But financially, German fusion researchers are relatively poorly equipped: according to Strategy&, this amounts to €225 million per year. In the United States of America, government funding for fusion research amounts to the equivalent of 1.27 billion euros. Regarding private investors, according to Strategy&, more than half of the financially strongest startup mergers internationally are located in the USA and Canada, two in Great Britain and only one in Germany.
“Nuclear fusion energy could achieve a decisive breakthrough in the next 10 to 15 years, but Germany is only watching in astonishment or skepticism,” von Tschirschke criticized. Germany needs an integration strategy at all steps from supply chains to research funding to administrative regulations.
The Federal Research Ministry has indicated a recent increase in funding. Funding for fusion research will be significantly increased by an additional €370 million over the next five years. In addition to funds already allocated to research institutions, the ministry will provide more than one billion euros for fusion research by 2028. The goal is to secure clean, reliable and affordable energy supplies. Industrial and research institutions must address technological challenges together so that a fusion power plant can be created.
During nuclear fusion, atomic nuclei do not split, but rather fuse together, as happens naturally in the Sun. If significant progress is made, fusion power plants could generate energy free of carbon dioxide, without the risk of a reactor disaster and without the disadvantages of long-lived nuclear waste such as that produced in a nuclear power plant. The Federal Research Ministry classified the technology as “clean” in a position paper issued in June. However, there are currently no fusion power plants that can be used to provide electricity. Munich startup Marvel Fusion recently announced the construction of a nuclear fusion power plant on the grounds of Colorado State University in the USA.
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