In his speech at the 48th Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology (AMNT 2017), the President of the DAtF (German Atomic Forum), Dr. Ralf Güldner, warned against the loss of nuclear expertise and of nuclear research and industry in Germany. Güldner said that the challenge for nuclear technology in Germany lay in the long-term provision of expertise. He said this applied to research, industry and the state itself and that it was premised on using this expertise, for example, in industrial projects for upgrading plants or in development. He continued that the international demand for German safety expertise, which enjoys an excellent reputation, contributed significantly to maintaining it. He warned that the decision to phase out nuclear energy must not constitute a risk of losing this expertise.
In his speech, Güldner said, “Nuclear safety research forms the basis for expertise in safety issues in which Germany intends to play a long-term role and exert its influence. If we want to continue participating in the international discussion of safety standards, then continuity in safety research is absolutely essential.” He complained that, especially in the case of innovative topics, reactor safety research was now being regarded as superfluous and that many federal state governments no longer wanted anything to do with it. He said that university chairs were not being refilled and universities and research institutes were shaped as to withdraw from areas that were not assigned to waste management or dismantling.
Güldner therefore suggested a new beginning for safety research, “The solution might lie in a new Centre of Expertise for Nuclear Safety where current issues could be dealt with without the burden of past conflicts. Here, it may be possible to pool capacities, to network research, state and industry and to create an attractive hub for our international collaboration.”
He drew attention to the fact that nuclear energy would continue to contribute to the security of the power supply in Germany. He indicated that the political consensus on the transformation of the German energy sector would also be implemented by operating the plants until 2022. And with regard to this he stated, “There must therefore be no factually unfounded complications to operation of the nuclear power plants in the last few years.” Güldner pointed out that the facilities for uranium enrichment and fuel assembly production were explicitly excluded from the phase out of nuclear energy use and he rejected any efforts to expand the phase out.