1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Nuclear fusion call

January 30, 2010

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants more research into nuclear fusion. So far, efforts to generate clean nuclear power using a process that would leave no toxic radioactive waste have proved elusive.

Merkel sitting at her desk, with the Reichstag building in the backfround
Merkel said investment in fusion research was worthwhileImage: picture alliance/dpa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for nuclear fusion to be explored as a solution to the world's energy needs.

Merkel said ploughing money into developing the energy form, which it is believed would produce no toxic radioactive waste, would be a good investment.

"Nuclear fusion would be a form of energy that could provide an infinite amount of energy for us," said Merkel in her weekly video message on Saturday.

Joining, not splitting

Current nuclear energy production uses a process known as fission, which exploits the energy released when heavy atoms are split into smaller ones. Nuclear fusion, the energy source of the sun and other stars, involves joining together smaller atoms that release energy when they are fused.

"We want to bring the type of energy that the sun produces to earth," said Merkel, a former physicist. On Monday, the chancellor will visit the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald where fusion research is being conducted.

Equipment used to research fusion power at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics
The chancellor will visit German researchers investigating the energy sourceImage: AP

She said that nuclear fusion, along with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, was a "future technology" worth investing in. Research into fusion has not been successful so far, requiring more power to be used than can be extracted.

A good opportunity

Despite this, Merkel said a replacement for diminishing fossil fuel supplies was needed. She said the search for viable fusion was "worth investing in" and would need international cooperation.

The chancellor added that scientific and technological research should be an economic priority as Germany recovers from recession.

"Without research, without investment in the future, we will not be able to maintain our prosperity," she said.

Editor: Andreas Illmer