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Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


Siemens Investing In Fossil Fuels For “The Really Long Term”

September 30th, 2014 by  

German multinational Siemens has had its hand in the renewable energy pie for decades, purchasing existing wind and solar companies to compliment its already sizable energy division. Siemens is a regular topic here at CleanTechnica, a leading manufacturer of wind turbines and investing into many other renewable energy fields.

However, Siemens aren’t getting carried away, it seems, by the renewable energy hype.

Speaking at Climate Week in New York, Siemens chief executive Roland Busch made it clear that the company had no intention of divesting itself of fossil fuel technology or investment any time soon. In fact, Busch believes that fossil fuels are going to be an integral part of the global energy mix for the next two decades.

Speaking after the UN climate summit, Roland Busch explained that Siemens was committing to its long-term investment in fossil fuels such as coal, explaining that he could not imagine a future free from fossil fuels.

“You can run Germany on renewable energy on a sunny day when the wind is blowing, but you will still need coal [on other days],” Busch said. “Regardless of how much you push [renewable energy] in the next years you will still have a certain share of energy coming from fossil fuels. We are trying to make that more efficient, more low-carbon, with our technologies.”

“In the next ten to 20 years I can’t imagine running any economies without fossil fuel. Beyond 20 years, it’s very hard to say.”

Siemens has been investing heavily in wind over the past few years, becoming one of the top global manufacturers of wind turbines. The company recently revealed its newest turbine at the WindEnergy 2014 trade fair in Hamburg — a 3.3 MW turbine that provides high energy yields at low wind sites — and earlier this year provided the UK with its first 6 MW wind turbine, erected at the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

According to Blue and Green Tomorrow, Siemens makes “40% of its total revenue from green solutions” and has also invested in technologies capable of minimizing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon capture and storage technology.

As Roland Busch said, however, “beyond 20 years, it’s very hard to say” what role fossil fuel technology will take. If nothing else, its increasing impact on the environment and finite-resources makes fossil fuel a risky long-term investment — a fact impacting more and more investment portfolios with each passing year.

Many commentators will inevitably end up trashing Siemens and Roland Busch for these statements, but to have expected anything less is the height of naivety. The reality is that fossil fuel energy is too firmly entrenched into almost every nation on Earth, and to expect that integral energy generating-technology to simply be eradicated in anything less than decades is simply unrealistic. Siemens should be congratulated for pushing so hard on renewable energy and carbon-mitigation technologies, instead of being berated for sensible investment choices.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

  • EllisWyatt

    I’m hoping government can perfect man. Let’s give them more power to try.

  • tibi stibi

    10 to 20 years sounds fine to me. whit a short horizon like this siemens will slow down and stop its investment in this part of their company.

  • Rob G

    It’s disappointing to hear that such a renewable progressive company would have it’s fingers in the dirty fossil fuel pie. It’s a bit like putting a McDonalds into a gym. Strangely though, I have no issue with fossil fuel companies investing in renewables – I see that as a potential migration from old to new.

  • Mephy


  • Matt

    While we may still need some FF for another 20 years. Do we need to build more FF plants with 40-60 life spans; likely not in most the developed world. For sure not more coal plants. Do we need to clean up the FF plants that we do keep using from now until 2050 yes. But I have to think that was more a stock holder statement. Saying we think that our FF division should be closed is not something a CEO wants to say.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We might need to build some more NG plants. There are a few hours a year for which we need capacity, the really hot summer afternoons. NG plants are relatively cheap which makes them a reasonable “deep backup” source.

      If you look at the Budischak study they found that there were about seven hours per year that were best covered by natural gas as opposed to overbuilding solar/wind/storage.

  • eject

    What else is Siemens supposed to say? They can’t just come out and say that they will have to close down their fossil fuel sector. Their capability to build high-tech power plants is what justifies large parts of their stockholder value.
    The fossil fuel sector in general is to big to fail until it inevitably will.

  • Will E

    in my opinion fossil is a steamship that floats and will suddenly tip over and sink in the deep.
    and Siemens will say
    we could not foresee this.
    it will hit investment funds and pension funds hard.

  • JamesWimberley

    Even though a lot of coal and oil will still be burned in 2035, this may still be a poor bet by Siemens. What they sell is gear for new power stations, and very few of these are being built for fossil fuels apart from gas. A lot of manufacturers are chasing the shrinking market for 500 MW steam turbines.

  • Ross

    He could be clearer in his support for the long term objective of eliminating all fossil fuels from the mix. The science is clear, so should he.

  • mike

    He is right though – investment IS still needed in fossil fuel power generation.
    Making existing fossil energy sources is extremely important.
    Why not make the fossil crutch as efficient as it can be and reduce its impact?
    We would be foolish to leave them all in their current state.
    This isn’t an either/or proposition, investment in existing fossil generation is just as important as investment in renewables.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    It is good that wind power companies are starting offer wind turbines that are optimized for steady low winds rather than strong but fluctuating high winds. This is very important when we are increasing the share of wind power over 20 % in the grid mix.

  • Michael G

    I agree, it will be 2030 – 2040 before we reach even 50% green energy in the most optimistic scneario I can come up with. Exponential growth is great but the green energy base is so small that even at a higher growth rate than now I am pessimistic about reaching Green Nirvana soon.

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