German steel production plunges to a 15-year low, echoing the economic downturn of 2008. The electrical steel sector, hit hardest, sees a nearly 9% drop. Contributing factors include weakened demand and exorbitant electricity prices, exacerbated since the Russian-Ukrainian war. Kerstin Maria Rippel, from the German Steel Federation, urges urgent political intervention, highlighting the pressing need to address transmission grid fees. The industry seeks state subsidies from the "Climate Transformation Fund" to navigate the crisis and achieve climate neutrality.
In a tumultuous turn of events, Germany, the heart of Europe's largest steel industry, finds itself grappling with a steel production crisis reminiscent of the global economic downturn in 2008. The once-mighty German steel production has plummeted to a 15-year low, reaching 35.4 million metric tons in 2022, marking a significant 3.9% decrease from the previous year.
Among the various segments of the steelworks industry, the electrical steel sector bears the brunt, experiencing a staggering 9% decline to 9.8 million metric tons, figures even lower than the depths reached in 2009.
The continuous downward trend in the German steel sector is closely tied to the aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian war. However, the primary driver of this industrial predicament is the soaring electricity prices that have plagued the nation since the geopolitical conflict.
Kerstin Maria Rippel, the managing director of the German Steel Federation, sheds light on the critical factors contributing to this crisis, weak demand and intentionally uncompetitive electricity prices. Rippel emphasizes the severity of the situation, stating that the annual balance of steel production in Germany underscores the gravity of the challenges faced by the steel industry.
Pointing fingers at the ruling left-liberal government, Rippel highlights an urgent need for political action, particularly concerning the transmission grid fees that have doubled since the beginning of 2023. She advocates for state subsidies from the "Climate Transformation Fund" to provide much-needed financial support for the industry to navigate through these challenging times.
The broader economic landscape in Germany is marred by soaring energy and material costs, with the decision to phase out nuclear power, supported by both the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Greens, playing a significant role. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party attributes the long-term decline in Germany's industrial sectors to both the current left-liberal government and the previous CDU-led government.
As the crisis deepens, major corporations like Bayer and Continental announce significant workforce reductions, adding to the alarming statistics of job losses in 2023. The AfD proposes a reversal of the green "energy transition," advocating for the repair of Nord Stream pipelines to reintroduce affordable Russian energy to the German industry. Additionally, they promise measures to reduce the tax burden and bureaucracy to revitalize the struggling German economy.
Germany's steel industry faces an unprecedented challenge as it grapples with a production downturn not witnessed since the global economic crisis of 2008. The electrical steel sector's substantial decline, coupled with weakened demand and skyrocketing electricity prices, paints a bleak picture. Urgent political intervention is deemed necessary by industry leaders, who call for state subsidies to steer the sector towards climate neutrality. As the economic tempest rages on, Germany confronts tough choices to salvage its industrial prowess and economic stability.