BASF boss Martin Brudermüller has appealed to politicians to create suitable framework conditions for the energy transition in industry.

"There is no plan for the how", criticized Brudermüller at the 75th German Business Administration Day in Düsseldorf.

The forum has been held annually since 1951 and serves as an exchange between experts from business administration and practitioners in companies, such as Brudermüller.

Mark Fehr

Editor in business.

  • Follow I follow

Nevertheless, the top manager was determined and optimistic that he would be able to cope with the change in the energy industry for BASF.

He described climate protection as an affair of the heart and made it clear that it created the corresponding pressure to implement in the company.

The DAX company wants to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050.

By 2030, BASF emissions are expected to fall by 30 percent compared to 2018.

"Supply and demand for green electricity are far apart"

The importance of the chemical industry for climate protection is shown by the following relationship, according to Brudermüller: With its current carbon dioxide emissions of 8 million tons per year, the BASF site in Ludwigshafen alone contributes 1 percent to total German emissions. Chemical companies like BASF need and consume a lot of energy, which is why switching to green energy sources is extremely costly. In principle, politicians are apparently aware of this problem. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) assured in his greeting to the business economists and entrepreneurs who gathered in Düsseldorf on Wednesday - conveyed by a State Secretary via video message - that politics must create suitable framework conditions so that the activities of companies in the face of challenges such as climate change,Digitization and demography also calculate economically.

BASF boss Brudermüller, however, wants to make the corresponding efforts even beyond this level: In view of the great challenges, corporate managers, according to Brudermüller, have to "go through the wall with their heads" and do things that one would initially not do from a business point of view.

With this picture, the manager also emphasized his commitment to the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

BASF wants to lead the way

Using the example of the large BASF steam cracker in Ludwigshafen, Brudermüller illustrated the technical and economic challenges posed by the transformation to a climate-neutral energy supply and economy. Put simply, the unit transforms the raw material crude oil into basic and intermediate products for the chemical industry. Up to now, the steam splitter has been heated with gas, but in future green electricity will serve as an energy source instead. "Technically we will manage, but the economic challenge remains," said Brudermüller. Consumers would have to bear the higher costs of climate-neutral production.

If no subsidies are to flow in, it will not work without consumers who are willing to pay significantly more for green products.

According to Brudermüller, the cost problem is largely due to the distribution network.

Green electricity produced on the coast for around 5 cents per kilowatt hour would be 17 cents at the factory gate.

However, industrial electricity should not cost more than 5 cents, demanded the BASF boss.

"But supply and demand for green electricity are far apart," he emphasized.

With a wind farm off the Dutch coast, the company wants to gain its own access to clean electricity.

BASF has the courage to lead this way, but it cannot go it alone.