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RWE boss warns of industrial decline from nuclear phaseout

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RWE boss warns of industrial decline from nuclear phaseout
Photo: DPA
13:41 CEST+02:00
A quick phaseout of nuclear power could lead to blackouts and threaten Germany's key industrial sector, the head of energy giant RWE said on Friday.

Jürgen Großmann, a vocal critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to end Germany's reliance on nuclear energy by 2022, told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung the country was jeopardizing its economic foundation.

“Politicians would do well to review their actions, and consequences for the price of electricity," he told the paper. "Consumers will pay more and many companies will think twice about whether they are in good hands in Germany.”

Nuclear energy provided nearly a quarter of Germany's power before a temporary moratorium was put in place this spring following the Japanese atomic disaster in Fukushima.

Much of it that power is produced by RWE, which operates four nuclear plants around the county.

Some scientists have argued Germany can transition to other forms of power relatively smoothly without electricity shortages and price increases.

But Großmann, who has been a leading critic of the centre-right government's reversal on nuclear energy, said power cuts were possible due to the country's overloaded electricity grid, which will be under more pressure under Merkel's plans.

“The danger is real,” he told the newspaper. “Blackouts are possible if stability decreases in the network.”

He said that spiking energy prices could lead to a “de-industrialization” of Germany as businesses head to cheaper countries.

If government policies remain the same, “we will soon have to give up entire industries,” he said. “Companies such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp will no longer be here.”

Großmann also argued that political pressure was making it difficult for energy firms to do business in Germany, driving down RWE's stock prices and increasing the likelihood of a hostile takeover.

He also warned that RWE will try to invest abroad in the future.

“Growth is for us now is elsewhere,” Großmann said.

The Local/mdm

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