Major German Firm Abandons Nuclear Power
September 19, 2011
BERLIN — Siemens, the largest engineering conglomerate in Europe, announced Sunday that following the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, it would stop building nuclear power plants anywhere in the world.
“The chapter for us is closed,” Peter Löscher, the chief executive of the Munich-based conglomerate, said in an interview with Der Spiegel, the weekly news magazine. He emphasized the company’s commitment to the rapidly growing renewable energy sector.
He said the decision was also “an answer” to political and social opposition to nuclear power in Germany.
Siemens, which built all of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants, is the first big company to announce such a shift in strategy. But other German companies involved in the nuclear energy industry are also reconsidering their options.
In May, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the accident at the nuclear power station in Fukushima, Japan, had convinced her that Germany should look to other power sources. The decision represented a turnaround for Mrs. Merkel, who a year ago agreed to prolong the life of the country’s nuclear plants by an average of 12 years.
Nuclear power accounts for 23 percent of electricity production in Germany. The government is putting in place an ambitious plan to increase the share of electricity generated from renewable sources to 35 percent by 2020, up from around 18 percent now.
Mr. Löscher called the government’s plans for renewable energy “the project of the century.” Although the government’s goal has met with skepticism in some quarters, he said the 35 percent figure was “achievable.”