Green tech pioneer Germany? America’s pragmatism is once again trailing us
With their multi-billion dollar subsidies, the USA is vying for green future technologies. The success surprised even the Americans. Germany, on the other hand, lacks the big plan to keep its own location attractive – and could lose twice as a result.
Schaeffler, Siemens Energy, Aurubis: Hardly a week goes by without a German company announcing a major investment in the USA. President Joe Biden courts with subsidies and tax credits for companies to invest billions in future technologies. And the Americans themselves are surprised by the success. The plan to boost a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles has already exceeded its own expectations, they say.
Instead of learning from it, Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) on the road as an industrial-political wrong-way driver. In the course of the green transformation, large economic nations are once again daring to adopt a classic industrial policy. Germany is watching.
There is no fundamental plan to keep the German location attractive. A capped electricity price for industry, as Habeck recently proposed, can at best only be one piece of the puzzle in a country that is expensive for energy.
Instead, Habeck is caught up by his specifications and prohibitions. Because they have primarily brought the question of affordability for end consumers to the fore. The federal government subsidizes forced demand with government premiums and grants for buyers. Undisputed: Everyone must be able to afford the transformation.
The USA show that it makes more sense. There is less help for consumers here, but also fewer requirements. Rather, the hope is that green technologies will become affordable in the long term thanks to a competitive economy – and thus prevail.
Germany, on the other hand, loses twice with its lack of planning. The green technologies of tomorrow are emerging in the USA, creating new jobs there and boosting the economy. And the German taxpayer adds even more when buying foreign products: After all, they still have to help finance the state premiums on heat pumps and electric cars.
The warnings about a subsidy race are only hypocritical. Now that the domestic economy is in danger of losing out, some are lamenting the Americans’ harsh protectionism. It was also the European Union (EU) that forfeited the opportunity for free trade with the USA. Among other things, the exaggerated concerns about chlorinated chicken and GM corn have that Free trade agreement TTIP fail.
So it fits in with the picture that, according to OECD data, Germany has slipped to the bottom of all industrialized countries in terms of growth for the current year and is only just ahead of Russia and Argentina. The USA, on the other hand, occupies second place after Australia in a comparison of western economic powers. If Habeck continues in the wrong direction, the gap will probably be even greater.
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