News broke today that industrial giant Siemens is exiting the nuclear business – a direct consequence of the country’s decision to abandon a nuclear future, itself triggered by last March’s nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
Siemens CEO Peter Loescher told Der Spiegel magazine, “The (nuclear) chapter for us is closed,” the BBC reported today. The decision follows “the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy,” he said.
Siemens had built all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power stations. Following the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced earlier this year that Germany would shut down all of them by 2022. Germany now aims to derive 35 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Siemens is active in wind and solar.
In recent years Siemens had pulled back from building entire nuclear plants to building only the “conventional island” portion that takes the steam from the nuclear reactor and converts it to electricity using turbines and generators.
It is now ceasing that, the BBC said. Although it is no longer building nuclear facilities, it will continue to manufacture steam turbines that it sells to a range of power plant types, including nuclear.
The decision marks an end to Siemens’ nuclear joint venture with Russia’s Rosatom, which was to have built pressurized water nuclear reactors that were to compete against Siemens’ former nuclear partner, France’s Areva, Reuters noted. Siemens had to pay $893 million for jilting Areva to hook up with Rosatom in 2009, Reuters said.