Peter Loescher (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), the chief executive of the German industrial and engineering conglomerate, announced on Sunday in an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel that Siemens will withdraw from building nuclear power stations, adding : “the chapter is closed for us”.
He said it was a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, explaining that it was the firm’s answer to “the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy”.
As a result Siemens will cancel a long-planned joint venture with Rosatom, the Russian nuclear firm.
Although Siemens was responsible for building all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power plants, more recently it only provided the non-nuclear parts of the plants that were being built by other firms.
But Mr Loescher said that the firm will keep on making components used in the conventional power industry, which can also be used in nuclear plants.
This announcement represents a change of mind for Siemens.
In 2009 the firm pulled out of an eight-year-old nuclear joint venture with French energy firm Areva, before announcing shortly after a new deal with Rosatom.
At the time Mr Loescher said that : “In view of global climate change and the increasing power demand worldwide, for us nuclear energy remains an essential part of a sustainable energy mix.”
Before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 23% of electricity production in Germany came from nuclear power. In September 2010 the German government had decided to extend the life of existing nuclear plants by an average of 12 years.
But in May this year German chancellor Angela Merkel made a complete U-turn by announcing that her country would shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2022.
According to Siemens’ chief executive, Berlin’s plan to switch to renewable energy sources is the “project of the century”. He added that the German government’s aim to reach 35% renewable energy by 2020 was doable.