Germany is at risk of going from an industrial country to an “industrial museum” due to the federal government’s energy policy, warned the president of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), Markus Steilemann. According to him, Germany is at risk of frequent power shortages because renewable energy is insufficient to meet the country’s energy needs.
Pointing to wind power, he said that Germany would need to build 10 wind turbines daily to implement the energy transition.
“One of them needs 4,000 tons of steel. That is half an Eiffel Tower. That means five Eiffel Towers every day. And that for the next eight years,” Steilemann said.
Steilemann questioned this effort by saying, “I’d like to see how we can get that going.”
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To underline the problem, Germany’s steel industry is already under severe threat, with plants shutting down across the country due to soaring energy costs. The question then becomes whether Germany can even secure enough affordable steel to build the necessary number of wind power turbines. Even if Germany could manage over the next eight years, it does not solve the energy crisis the country is confronting both now and over the coming years.
VCI managing director Wolfgang Große Entrup also called for rapid progress towards the country’s planned energy transition. According to him, speed is of the essence, as the situation is becoming more dramatic by the day, according to a report from German newspaper Bild.
“Our companies need air to breathe quickly. We cannot wait for anything or anyone anymore. It is about saving the industrial structures that make our prosperity possible,” Entrup stated.
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︎Critics are also pointing to failures of German Economic Minister Robert Habeck and the federal government. Jörg Rothermel of the Energy Intensive Industries of Germany association (EID) says Habeck is “a lot behind schedule” with the expansion plans.
“The federal government must drastically increase the pace of expansion, otherwise the goal will not be achieved,” he warned.
︎Matthias Frederichs, the head of the Building Materials Association (BVB), is demanding Habeck and Chancellor Olaf Scholz connect all available capacities for generating electricity to the grid, including nuclear power plants.
“Otherwise, there is a risk of bankruptcies and emigration,” said Frederichs.
So far, Germany’s left-wing government has mostly resisted calls to reopen nuclear power plants, which the Green Party has long fought against.
Fredrichs argues that Germany’s industry urgently needs enough green and cheap electricity, but the government has no plans in the foreseeable future that could remedy the problem. He noted that production costs have doubled since the beginning of the war, mainly due to soaring electricity prices. Frederichs said these input costs must be cut in half for companies to make production worthwhile again.
A Habeck spokeswoman admitted that securing enough energy supplies and transitioning to green energy is an “enormous effort” and that “the expansion targets are undoubtedly ambitious.”
VCI represents 1,900 companies in the chemical industry, which have a turnover of approximately €220 billion and employ more than 530,000 people.