Disenchanted by what many consider years of neglect by the German government the superconductivity community in Germany has banded together to advance the industry. Eight manufacturers of material and components for superconducting systems have founded the industrial association Industrieverband Supraleitung (IV Supra).
The German superconductor industry hopes to realize the same success historically achieved by the German photovoltaics, wind, and nanotechnologies industries. The goal of the association is to inform politicians and the public about the utility of superconducting technology for a sustainable and reliable energy supply.
“We are already able to present marketable products, but the utilities, which are very conservative and politically strong, will not buy into them without political pressure and legislation to support superconductor technology,” said Werner Prusseit, President of the association and also CEO of THEVA Dünnschichttechnik GmbH. “Through our three goals of publicity, networking, and political lobbying, we hope to bring superconducting technology into widespread use, and also to support the development of new products.”
Joachim Bock, spokesman and First Deputy for IV Supra, as well as Vice President and CEO of Nexans SuperConductors GmbH, said: “At present, clean coal and renewable energy receive a lot of attention and outshine other technologies. Especially in Germany there are a lot of economic incentives for renewable energy. We should have something similar for superconductivity, which reduces the consumption of energy. There are hardly any innovative concepts to increase the efficiency of the electrical grids and to improve the way energy is used; superconductor technology is one of them. Superconductor technology provides intelligent ways to use electrical energy, and we have to communicate this fact to the decision-makers who can provide the political and financial support to implement superconductor technology in the power system.”
“It’s all about energy efficiency,” Bock added. “Hence, we are proposing pilot and reference projects which are already very advanced, or which will have a big impact. Typical applications will be generators and motors, fault current limiters, power cables in urban areas, energy storage systems, and bearings/levitation.” The association also plans to promote the development of HTS wire for power applications.
U.S. Provides Example for Superconductivity Program
Prusseit suggested that a new German push for superconductor development could support research and development the way the U.S. system does: “In the U.S., superconductor development is driven by projects and system studies from the DOE and DOD, which even give orders to private industry. Here we need similar system studies to demonstrate the feasibility and reliability of the technology.
Some additional information on the IV Supra’s goals and planned activities, funding targets and strategies, and information on how IV Supra intends to leverage off Germany’s nanotechnology, solar, wind, and other cleantech industries is available in Superconductor Week, Volume 20, Number 14.
The founding members of IV Supra are: Adelwitz Technologiezentrum GmbH, Adelwitz; Bruker BioSpin GmbH, Karlsruhe; ERT Refrigeration Technology GmbH, Hamburg; European High Temperature Superconductors GmbH & Co. KG, Hanau; Evico GmbH, Dresden; Nexans SuperConductors GmbH, Hürth; Theva Dünnschichttechnik GmbH, Ismaning; and Trithor GmbH, Rheinbach. The company Oswald Motorentechnik has reportedly also agreed to join.