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Renouncing nuclear

September 18, 2011

The head of German engineering and industrial giant Siemens, Peter Löscher, has said in an interview that his company is to withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry.

Stop sign in front of nuclear plant
No more nuclear power, Siemens saysImage: AP

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Siemens Chief Executive Peter Löscher said his company is turning the page on nuclear energy.

"The chapter for us is closed," Löscher said, announcing that the firm will no longer build nuclear power stations. "We will no longer be involved in managing the building or financing of nuclear plants," he said.

A long-planned joint venture with Russian nuclear firm Rosatom would also be cancelled, although Löscher said he would still seek to work with their partner "in other fields."

Siemens CEO Peter Löscher
Löscher said the Fukushima disaster prompted the company's decisionImage: DW

He added that Siemens would still make components, such as steam turbines, used in the conventional power industry that can also be used in nuclear plants.

"This means we are restricting ourselves to technologies that are not only for nuclear purposes but can also be used in gas or coal plants," Löscher said.

In recent months, Siemens has been struggling with its nuclear business. In May, an arbitration tribunal ordered the German company to pay 648 million euros ($927 million) to France's Areva.

The decision came after the tribunal found the Munich-based firm failed to meet contractual obligations in a nuclear joint venture with Areva that it exited earlier this year.

U-turn on nuclear energy

On Sunday, the Siemens chief said the company's decision to withdraw from the nuclear sector was a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March. He said it was also an answer to "the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy."

The Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986, prompted huge debate in Germany about the future of nuclear energy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced at the end of May that all of the country's 17 nuclear reactors will be shut down by 2022, making Germany the first major industrialized power to abandon atomic energy.

The decision marked a turnabout by the chancellor who last year said that the life of existing nuclear plants would be extended.

Löscher also backed the government's planned switch to renewable energy, calling it the "project of a century." He said plans to raise Germany's renewable energy target to 35 percent by 2020 could be achieved.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar