Globalized and Green?
Siemens Said to Consider a Retreat from Nuclear Power
Siemens, the German engineering giant, may have no room in its portfolio for nuclear projects following the Fukushima disaster, according to media reports. It would mean a loss of revenue -- and a serious reconsideration of what "sustainable energy" means.
The German engineering firm Siemens may reconsider its involvement in nuclear power, according to a report on Tuesday by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Just two years ago the Munich-based conglomerate announced a deal with the Russian firm Rosatom to form a new venture to build up to 400 nuclear plants by 2030. Siemens planned to invest heavily in all forms of energy, from coal to renewables, but the partnership with Rosatom would help "enlarge our footprint in nuclear business," CEO Peter Löscher said at the time, because nuclear was "an essential part of a sustainable energy mix."
But the Fukushima disaster in Japan seems to have changed the corporate mood. Last week the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported plans already underway by Siemens to pursue business in a fourth major sector, called "Green City" -- after industry, energy, and health care -- to revamp its image. "Green City" would be a category for environmentally-minded projects now ranked under energy and industry, according to the paper.
The question within Siemens now is evidently how to reconcile its nuclear interests with the desire to profile itself as "green." Since Fukushima, all possibilities are on the table, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung -- including a complete divestment from nuclear power.
The paper wouldn't name its sources, and Siemens has made no official comment. Abandoning the venture with Rosatom, however, would mean forfeiting "sizable revenue," according to a May 26 report by WirtschaftsWoche.
Sentiment in Germany has moved sharply against nuclear power in the last few weeks. Chancellor Angela Merkel was so worried about political fallout from the Fukushima disaster that she called for a sudden temporary shutdown of seven of the country's oldest nuclear plants. The move was considered a bid for votes in imminent state elections, but in that regard it may have failed. Her Christian Democrats lost heavily last week in Baden-Württemberg, and voters gave the
Green Party an unprecedented boost.