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06 Sep 2023, 13:32
Sören Amelang

Germany plans to spend more than €1 bln on nuclear fusion research by 2028

Clean Energy Wire

More than one billion euros will be invested by the German government on fusion research over the next five years. "Fusion is a huge opportunity to solve all our energy problems," said research minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, a member of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). She said it was no longer a question of whether fusion will materialise, but rather if Germany will be part of it. Stark-Watzinger announced a new support programme worth 370 million euros – which together with funds already earmarked makes one billion euros – to strengthen activities already underway at the Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Research Centre Jülich until 2028. The investments were aimed at creating a joint "fusion ecosystem with industry" to enable a fusion power plant in Germany as soon as possible, she said. In a paper presented earlier this year, the research ministry said that Germany was already in pole position in fusion research, and should make better use of this advantage by launching a new funding programme.

In August, German nuclear fusion start-up Marvel Fusion blamed a lack of government support in Europe for its decision to build a fusion facility in the United States. But support for the technology is controversial, with critics warning that the FDP’s enthusiastic embrace is wishful thinking which detracts from immediate steps necessary to fight climate change – in a similar vein to the party’s controversial support for synthetic fuels for cars, and hydrogen boilers for heating in the name of “technology openness” or “technology freedom”. Stark-Watzinger was widely ridiculed at the end of last year for saying that a German fusion reactor could be connected to the grid “in ten years”, a timetable considered unrealistic even by ardent supporters of the technology. Germany switched off its three remaining nuclear fission reactors in April, which split atomic nuclei instead of fusing them.

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