The understanding of the chemical industry is greater today than it has been for a long time.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine and since gas was in short supply, the Germans have learned what's involved in the value chain of this industry.
That gas is not only there to heat the living room, but also to produce plastics, paints, fertilizers, insulation material, countless auxiliary materials for production, even medicines.
It is shocking that it took a war to achieve this new understanding.
For the representatives of the chemical industry, this national knowledge gain is nevertheless fortunate.
Because now everyone knows what will happen if the energy transition fails.
For their success, it seems, every price is worth it.
In chemistry, the war “only” exacerbated the ongoing transformation.
Converting production to electricity-driven processes is like open-heart surgery the likes of which have never been seen in the industry before.
Away from oil and gas towards renewable energies.
In addition, the development of a circular economy and little by little the replacement of fossil raw materials with vegetable oils, animal fats, sugar, starch, ethanol from crops - this conversion will not only be expensive, it will also give rise to many social debates.
Nothing works without gas
Energy is elementary in all of this.
There is no question that worries managers in the chemical industry today.
The chemical industry uses about 10 percent of electricity and 15 percent of gas.
Only the steel industry is even more energy-intensive.
Unlike them, the chemical industry not only needs the gas to produce heat, steam or electricity, around 30 percent goes directly into the plants as a raw material.
One number is enough to understand what needs to happen now: If the plants are to be electrified, the electricity consumption in the chemical industry will increase tenfold, according to estimates by the VCI industry association.
The chemical industry alone would therefore need 500 terawatt hours of "green" electricity.
That is the total electricity consumption in Germany today.
Not only the number is remarkable, but also the place and time at which the newly elected VCI President Markus Steilemann, CEO of the chemical company Covestro, presented the new industry key issues paper a few days ago: namely, jointly written with the Center for Liberal Modernity , a “think tank” close to the Greens, founded by Marieluise Beck and Ralf Fücks.
The guest speaker at the summit meeting in Berlin was Michael Kellner, co-negotiator of the coalition agreement and today Parliamentary State Secretary to Economics Minister Robert Habeck.
His boss announced the gas price cap together with the chancellor and finance minister on that very day.
A feat of strength worth billions, which is not least due to the lobbying work of the chemical industry.
No more time for reservations
In any case, the time of reservations about the Greens is over.
When BASF boss Martin Brudermüller became the first chemical representative to join the Economic Advisory Council of the Bundestag faction, it was still a source of excitement.
It's been four years now.
Today his participation would only be a side note.
That says a lot about this turning point.
The chemical industry has simply reversed the game.
The energy transition is wanted by society, we're taking part, now you also have to deliver - so it's now driving politics in front of it.
In fact, as an emitter of greenhouse gases and as a major energy consumer, chemistry is part of the problem, but without it there will be no solution.
Battery technology for cars, lightweight construction, circular economy, hydrogen economy - all of this will only work with chemistry.
And their representatives let politicians know at every opportunity.
For a country that relies on industry like no other in Europe, a functioning chemical industry is indeed essential.
It is no coincidence that the German chemical industry is by far the largest in the EU and an important supplier for flagship industries such as machine and car manufacturers.
But even if the energy problem is solved, there is no guarantee that the conversion will be successful.
It is not yet clear whether customers will also accept higher prices for green products.
The considerable cost disadvantage compared to the American and Asian competitors can only be compensated for if going green is also worthwhile.
And in case of doubt, this requires coercion and politics.
The alliance of convenience between the Greens and the chemical industry could turn into a real love marriage.