Ex-BASF boss Hambrecht: “Should nuclear power plants continue to operate”

Ex-BASF boss Hambrecht
“Should nuclear power plants continue to operate”

After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the then BASF boss Hambrecht negotiated the exit from nuclear energy. Ten years later, he calls for nuclear power plants to run longer. In an interview, he describes how his rethinking process came about and what the legislature could do.

J├╝rgen Hambrecht has gone through a process of thinking, or better: a process of rethinking. In 2011, shortly after the Fukushima disaster, the then BASF boss sat on the ethics committee that negotiated the faster phase-out of nuclear energy by 2022. Now he is advocating keeping the nuclear power plants running for a few more years.

“The existing nuclear power plants are there, they have been written off. So the electricity is relatively cheap,” says Hambrecht in the podcast “Zero Hour“.” For our national economy, for the competitiveness of the German economy, it would make sense to continue operating these nuclear power plants. “During the energy transition, Germany was primarily concerned with nuclear energy.” Ten years later we have completely different images in mind “, says Hambrecht, who was BASF boss from 2003 to 2011 and sat on the supervisory board from 2014, which he chaired until 2020. “The risk of nuclear energy tends to be localized, while climate change is global.”

He admits that it will be difficult to get political majorities for it. But the legislator has options: “You would have to modify Paragraph 7 of the Atomic Energy Act as an interim solution until we can guarantee a secure supply with renewable energies,” continued Hambrecht. “We could shut down the dirtiest coal-fired power plants at the same time, saving around 70 million tons of CO2. That is around 10 percent of our total CO2 emissions.”

In the business world, the voices have recently become louder after the extension of the terms. A few days ago, Steve Angel, the head of the Linde Group, and his designated successor Sanjiv Lamba declared: “We will need an energy mix. That includes nuclear power.” However, the German electricity companies are reacting with reserve to the debate. Eon boss Leonhard Birnbaum even described it as “strange” to the “Handelsblatt”: “It comes much too late and is no longer of any use.” The “Nuclear Energy Chapter” has long been “closed” for RWE as well.

Hambrecht criticizes a “credible, real concept that really allows us to successfully shape this transformation” in the energy transition. “We are constantly setting new, increasingly ambitious goals. We don’t care about tracking implementation,” he criticizes.

Private households would feel this price increase painfully, as would German industry: “If we get out of fossil fuels, the whole industry will be electrified throughout,” says Hambrecht. That means a four to five times higher demand for electricity. There is no concept for this. But you have to preserve “the bloodstream of the German economy”.

Listen in the new episode of “The Zero Hour”:

  • What role climate protection played during Hambrecht’s time at BASF
  • Why BASF is now planning its own wind farm
  • How the debates in the Ethics Council went in 2011 – and which recommendation was forgotten

You can find all episodes directly at Audio Now, Apple or Spotify or via Google.

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