The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has submitted an ad-hoc statement on energy research to Prof. Annette Schavan, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research. Against the backdrop of the events in Fukushima, the statement contains twelve key declarations that mainly address research-policy issues connected to the restructuring of Germany's energy system.
The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina compiled the statement, entitled "Energiepolitische und forschungspolitische Empfehlungen nach den Ereignissen in Fukushima" (Energy- and research-policy recommendations following the events in Fukushima), at the request issued by Federal Minister Annette Schavan on 21 March 2011. The paper is based on the energy research programme presented in autumn 2009, which was drawn up by the Leopoldina in collaboration with the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (for the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities). The current statement was made available to the members of the ethics commission that Chancellor Merkel appointed on 22 March 2011. The commission incorporated the statement into its final report, which it issued on 30 May 2011.
The Leopoldina's statement focuses on energy research and contains twelve declarations that mainly address research-policy issues connected to the restructuring of Germany's energy system. It holds that from a technical and scientific perspective it is possible to phase out nuclear power within around ten years. The authors sketch out the framework conditions that Germany must comply with to achieve this. One of the conditions involves setting up a long-term, independent body to monitor the restructuring process. The statement also says that accelerating nuclear phase-out will not affect the country's long-term energy-research goals. The authors consider it important for energy research to address a broad spectrum of topics over the long term. Research must also, they say, present society with additional options by covering everything from basic research to highly application-oriented work. The statement considers a number of measures in the electricity sector - particularly those designed to increase efficiency - to be important in the short term. It also highlights the international dimension of energy policy, since many plans in this area are made on a Europe-wide level.
The key declarations of the Academy's 2009 energy research concept continue to apply, according to the statement. This, it says, holds true from a technical and scientific perspective as well as from a social-sciences perspective. The statement considers the following areas to be of particular importance in future energy research: developing intelligent control systems, accelerating advances in storage technologies, and investigating fundamental processes on a molecular level.
The recommendations were compiled, reviewed and approved in a multi-stage process.
The statement "Energiepolitische und forschungspolitische Empfehlungen nach den Ereignissen in Fukushima" and the 2009 energy research programme are available at www.leopoldina.org (in German). An English version will be published soon.
Prof. Ferdi Schüth (Member of the Leopoldina) is coordinator for the recommendations and the contact for any questions regarding the statement. To arrange interviews, please contact the Leopoldina's Department of Press and Public Relations.