Mr. Kullmann, the Americans are subsidizing companies with 400 billion dollars towards the energy transition. Are you already doing the math where Evonik is investing next?
This is not a mathematical question, but a strategic one. As early as 2017, Evonik set up a department for geostrategic issues that deals with precisely these issues. In the United States, we have significantly improved our footprint through acquisitions in recent years. Where we invest in the future, we will always decide based on what is best for the Group. The US is very attractive. We are building the most modern lipid factory in the world there.
Lipids are required for mRNA vaccines, among other things. Evonik also produces lipids for Biontech in Germany. Why are you going to America now?
Our contractual partner is the American government. Our production is so strategically important for the USA that 70 percent of the investment volume is paid for there. Singapore had also made us an attractive offer. We also spoke to our previous federal government, but they didn’t offer us anything.
Based on an investigation, the Federal Ministry of Economics came to the decision that it was not necessary. When Robert Habeck took office, it was the first topic he took up. Our investment decisions had already been made by then.
Your last major investment in a new plant for the plastic polyamide 12 was in Marl. Back then, Evonik decided in favor of Germany. . .
We have chosen the best location. Among other things, because we have the best infrastructure for this facility in Marl. That was a clear strategic calculation.
Would you make that decision again today?
Yes. Next year we will then have to decide where to build a new isophorone strand. Isophorone is a so-called crosslinker, i.e. a crosslinker, which is needed for a large number of products. To put it simply: Without isophorone, the rotors on a wind turbine hang down like banana skins. So far we have capacities for this in Germany, Belgium, the USA and China. We will see where the best location for this future technology is. One important factor is market growth. We see huge growth in wind energy in the US and in China. The smallest and toughest is in Germany.
And probably not because we already have so many wind turbines?
But no. We just don’t come out of the quark. You can see that from the components, 70 percent of the wind turbine generators come from China. This leads to the next question: At which location is the delivery to the wind turbine manufacturer particularly efficient? It’s about who wins the race in the regional race.
Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck wants to give an appropriate response to the Americans’ Inflation Reduction Act. Is a subsidy race really the right answer?
Subsidies alone are not enough. In addition to market growth and robust value chains, industrial policy is about which country wants industry. Fast decisions and little bureaucracy are essential. And where we can find excellently trained employees.