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The Central German Chemical Triangle has Strongly Invested for the Future

08.12.2009 -

Well Connected - The central German chemical triangle located in the new federal states Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia, 150 Kilometers from Berlin, has linked up its centuries-old tradition of being an economic, scientific and business centre since the German unity. Investments in the amount of €17 billion were made at the major sites Leuna, Schkopau, Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Zeitz, Piesteritz, Böhlen and Schwarzheide.

The central German chemical triangle now has a chemical park area of more than 5,500 ha and ultramodern product integration schemes that are a world-away from the environmentally unfriendly sites of the early 1970's. The spectacular process of restructuring touched upon all walks of life and was unparalleled anywhere in the world in terms of scope and depth. Thus, the change cannot only be registered by experts but it is literally in the air, as for example Bitterfeld-Wolfen reduced its sulfur dioxide emission rate from 180μg/m³ to less than 20μg/m³. Similar results are shown by the other sites. Since the 1990's the atmospheric load in total decreased by 89%, the water consumption decreased by 85% and the water pollution was minimized by 96%.

Successful Figures

Another proof of success is the sharp rise in productivity. In 2006 the rise was 120% with sales of €251,000 per employee compared to 1995 figures. The leap becomes even more obvious when looking at the time period prior to the restructuring. In Leuna for instance, 27,000 employees generated a turnover equivalent to €1.5 billion in 1990. In 2006, 9,000 staff generated €6 billion, thus quadrupling the economic performance. "Hence the chemistry park concept works," said Matthias Gabriel, Managing Director of the P-D ChemiePark Bitterfeld Wolfen site company. The need to focus regional capacities in chemical park development as well as the intention to create closer synergies with feedstock integration, while promoting the cross-acquisition of know-how in the chemical sites resulted in the formation of the Central European Chemical Network, Cechemnet in 2002. With the support of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the isw "Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Beratung und Dienstleistung" and the North-East Chemical Association (VCI) the six chemical parks and its chemical park operators aim to strengthen their activities by supporting the development of tailor-made strategies for investors in the central German chemical triangle.

Today, the resident chemical/plastics manufacturing companies take a combined share of about 14% in the total sales of the processing trade in the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg. Thomas Pleye, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Saxony-Anhalt, said he considers the business year 2008 to be positive, despite a fourth-quarter slump. "One way to emerge stronger from the crisis is to invest in innovation; knowledge is becoming more and more of a decisive production factor," Pleye said. "This can be seen through the substantial amount of aid the state Saxony-Anhalt is offering for the building and expansion of research infrastructure." The future Chemical-Biological Proceeding Centre (CBP) of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in Leuna is an example of this.

Projects Underway

Another example in terms of using renewable primary products is the starch plant run by the Food Retail and Production CS which opened on Oct. 28, 2009 in Zeitz. It produces modified starch, vital gluten and food stuff from wheat with an annual output of 130,000 tons. "We are looking forward to the future so the plant is constructed for doubling the manufacturing performance at anytime. The local energy provider Envia Therm supplies us with up to 8 MB electricity from their new biogas plant next to our facility," says Gerhardt Hildebrandt, project director of the plant. "Additionally the wheat will be delivered only by regional suppliers," Hildebrandt explains.

In 2010, Solar Valeey in Bitterfeld-Wolfen - currently Europes largest solar location - will be receiving support in matters of development. This is due to the construction of the new Fraunhofer technology center at the Schkopau site which began in October. The center will be developing innovative procedure for the solar industry. A primary goal is to ensure the continuing prosperity of the plastics industry in the region and to become the center for the solar industry.

The chemical and plastics industry in central Germany plays a key role in the economic policy in Saxony-Anhalt. The plastics industry is based on the raw materials oil and gas and in light of difficult economic and financial times and against the background of the increasing oil price a viable alternative could be the local brown coal storage.

As Dr. Haseloff, the ECRN President and Minister for Business and Employment of Saxony-Anhalt, pointed out "Central Germany disposes of large quantities of high-quality brown coal which can be extracted at low costs. Especially against the background of long-term increasing oil prices, it is our intention to use brown coal not only for power generation but also as a raw material for the chemical industry. Based on the competences of our region as well as the innovative operations and facilities, it is our aim to explore and develop the preconditions for an efficient substantial use of the domestic brown coal."

Dr. Haseloff stated that the first step in this development had been taken by setting up an innovation panel called "Innovative brown coal integration in Central Germany". The panel is supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as well by Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, and has brought together different partners to develop procedures as well as technological know-how for raw material production and exploitation. Haselhoff said that "A key component is the future Chemical-Biological Proceeding Centre (CBP) of the Fraunhofergesellschaft in Leuna. This research centre is supported by the state and shall close the gap between laboratory and industrial use. The target is the replacement of fossil raw materials through renewable primary products by using biotech procedures and products in industrial dimensions. Thus, we encourage regional competence, create a basis for employment and send a positive signal with national impact."

All these facts and figures brings the visitor of the central German chemical triangle to the conclusion that it is not only located 150 kilometers from Berlin but in fact located in a favorable strategic position at heart of the "new" Europe which has developed due to recent EU accession countries.


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