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Siemens pulls the plug on nuclear

Siemens_AG_logo.jpgThe German company Siemens is pulling out of nuclear power for good. In an interview with der Spiegel published on 18 September, CEO Peter Löscher announced that the company would no longer build or finance nuclear power plants in Germany or anywhere else (English version). Löscher said the decision was in large part due to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the German government’s decision to shut down its existing nuclear plants by 2022.

Siemens has had a long and dinstinguished history in nuclear. In the 1970s and 1980s, it built nuclear plants throughout West Germany, and in the 1990s, it partnered with French firms EDF and Areva to develop the 1600MW European Pressurized Reactor (EPR).

But Siemens’ relationship with its French partners was fraught — the German firm controlled a minority share in the joint venture and complained that it didn’t have enough say in the way business was conducted. In 2009, it abruptly withdrew from the partnership, choosing instead to work with Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm. The Financial Times reports that the Rosatom partnership never really went anywhere, and now that Germany is dumping nuclear, it may seem pointless to pursue it further.

The decision won’t mean that the company completely dissociates itself from the nuclear industry however: Löscher says that Siemens will continue to produce “dual-use” hardware, such as steam turbines, that may find their way into future nuclear plants.

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