IPP scientists design teachers training

Energy is a much discussed topic in Germany since the government decided to pull out of nuclear power and expand renewable sources. As a contribution to this public debate, scientists at IPP Greifswald designed a certified teachers training on the subject. One of their aims was to raise awareness of the large variety of information about energy issues and to provide tools and knowledge to help interpret it. They soon found that background information on energy is in great demand. Three times more teachers wanted to sign up than the 28 participants the one-day course could accommodate. The high level of interest triggered plans to repeat the course not only in the Greifswald area, but also in other regions of Germany.

Energy Basics

The day started with basics: How much energy does an average person consume per day – including the energy needed to produce and transport the goods that the person uses? How much energy can renewable sources like wind or solar power provide in comparison? The book “Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air” by David MacKay, which analyses these questions for Great Britain, provided the basis for the session. The organisers of the training adapted his calculations to German conditions.

This is what training should be like.

Participating teacher

Energy Scenarios

Next, Tobias Eder of IPP Garching introduced energy scenarios as a tool to assist political decision making. He provided insight into the various assumptions and boundary conditions that add up to variations in these scenarios and demonstrated how sensitive the models are to changes in public opinion. The scenarios show, for instance, that a society that decides not to care about global warming, will rely on cheap coal, while a society that does take measures against greenhouse gas emissions is expected to expand renewable energies, nuclear fission and – if available – fusion.

Fusion Energy

The last session of the day looked into fusion – how it works and what potential it offers securing our future energy supply. The day finished with a visit to the assembly hall of Wendelstein 7-X, the advanced stellarator which is under construction in Greifswald.