German Energy Technology Prospects

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Science  24 Dec 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4579, pp. 1280-1285
DOI: 10.1126/science.218.4579.1280


After more than 25 years of development of nuclear power and almost 10 years of research and development in numerous areas of nonnuclear energy, there is now a good basis for judging the future prospects of energy technologies in the Federal Republic of Germany. The development of nuclear power has provided an important and economically advantageous new source of energy. Further efforts are needed to establish the nuclear fuel cycle in all stages and to exploit the potential of advanced reactors. In all other areas of energy technology, including energy conservation, new energy sources, and coal, economics has turned out to be the key problem, even at today's energy prices. Opportunities to overcome these economic problems through additional R & D are limited. There is some potential for special applications, and there are many technologies that could contribute to the energy supply of developing countries. In general, however, progress in energy conservation and the use of renewable energy sources will depend on the degree to which energy policy measures can improve their economic basis. For some technologies, such as solar thermal power stations and coal liquefaction, large-scale economic deployment cannot be foreseen today. Instead of establishing costly demonstration projects, emphasis will be put on improving key components of these technologies with the aim of having the most advanced technology available when the economic parameters are more favorable.