Energy for the future - IPP celebrates multiple anniversary

10 years ASDEX Upgrade / 20 years stellarators / 30 years MPI / 40 years IPP

November 01, 2001

On 30 October 2001 the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching celebrated four anniversaries at one go. Approximately 800 employees and guests celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of the institute, the 30th anniversary of its becoming member of the Max Planck Society, the world's first demonstration of "real" stellarator operation 20 years ago and 10 years of successful operation of ASDEX Upgrade - Germany's biggest fusion experiment.

In his welcoming address professor Alex Bradshaw reminded the participants that "already in the sixties it was clear that the way towards the utilisation of nuclear fusion as source of energy would be long and laborious." Since 1961 the work of IPP has been integrated into the European Fusion Programme. The early years were characterised by the existence of a large number of small units. Only at the end of the 60s they ceased operation and research focused on the two types of tokamak and stellarator. "Today we celebrate important milestones in relation to the development of the tokamak and stellarator lines at the IPP. Simultaneously, we find that shortly before the 20th century ended the world's fusion community became able to demonstrate that fusion as a source of energy is feasible by means of proving in experiments a considerable fusion power output. Now, the proposed experimental reactor ITER is to find out whether fusion can be used in power plants."

Dr. Hermann Schunck of the federal research ministry pointed out that it is important for the federal government to see that fusion research is part and parcel of a long term energy strategy which includes reasonable promotion of renewable energies as well. Professor Hubert Markl, president of the Max Planck Society reminded of the enormous challenges connected with the founding of the IPP division at Berlin in 1992 and the establishment of the branch institute at Greifswald in 1994. He said: "This enabled us to preserve the potentials of the former GDR in the field of plasma research and integrate them into new forward-looking projects."

In his address Dr. Edmund Stoiber, prime minister of Bavaria, was not only looking back. He stated that the question of what role fusion could play in a future mix of energies is important, too: "Nuclear fusion is certainly one of the most interesting options for future energy supply." An energy policy striving for secure and economical supply, environmental friendliness and preservation of resources was to be achieved only with a reasonable mix of energies: oil, coal and gas, renewable energies and nuclear energy. These statements by the CSU representative were hardly contradicted by the theses presented by professor Fritz Varenholt, former SPD minister of environment at Hamburg and today executive chairman of the wind power company Repower Systems: "In the 21st century the world's population of 10 billion people will face a number of crisis-like aggravations. The insufficient food supply and returning famines, the increasing shortage of drinking water in the countries of the South, the climatic changes with expanding deserts and world-wide migration of people - all these horror scenarios can be controlled in a developed civil society only by means of sufficient, low cost and environmentally friendly energy. However, the presently used mix of energies cannot be preserved." His conclusion: "Fusion research, inherently safe nuclear power stations and renewable energies - these are our tasks."

Isabella Milch

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