Members of the German federal parliament informed themselves at Alzchem about current challenges
Electricity price explosions and impending EU ban on calcium cyanamide fertilization jeopardize climate protection and European self-sufficiency
Trostberg - SPD Members of Parliament Bernd Westphal and Carsten Träger visited the chemical company Alzchem in Trostberg at the beginning of August for an exchange of information with management and the works council. The spokesman for economic policy and the spokesman for environmental policy of the SPD parliamentary group informed themselves on site about the current challenges facing the company. Alzchem CEO Andreas Niedermaier began by presenting the company's products and their markets and applications: The product range extends from carbide to calcium cyanamide and numerous specialty chemicals. Alzchem products are used, for example, in pharmaceutical raw materials, airbags, raw materials for DNA tests (Coronatests), food supplements in the human sector (Creapure®), substances for improved animal nutrition (Creamino®).
Many of these products are based on the starting product carbide and the calcium cyanamide produced from it with its typical nitrogen-carbon bond. CEO Andreas Niedermaier explained to the guests, "For many decades, Alzchem has specialized in this field of chemistry and is now, in many areas, the only manufacturer of these important chemicals outside China." Karl Held, chairman of the works council, pointed out the company's successful development over the past ten years: "Thanks to the constructive cooperation between management and the works council, sales have more than doubled during this time and the number of employees has increased by more than a third to approximately 1650. Alzchem is an important training company in the Traunstein district, with a training quota of about 9 % and about 150 trainees."
This positive development is threatened by two current challenges. CEO Andreas Niedermaier: "The production of the starting product carbide is extremely electricity-intensive. The industrial electricity price has multiplied within the last year." Due to long-term electricity supply contracts, these cost increases would only partially take effect for Alzchem until now. However, he said, the company would be forced to pass on the foreseeable further increases in electricity costs to its customers. Niedermaier continued, "However, not only the high prices, but also the security of the power supply and thus the reliable availability of electricity are immensely important for the operation of the chemical plants."
Another major challenge for Alzchem is the EU's chemicals policy. For example, a ban on calcium cyanamide fertilization is currently being discussed there because the European Chemicals Agency suspects it poses risks to the environment. The head of Public Affairs at Alzchem, Dr. Hans-Jürgen Klasse, commented on the ban debate: "This is downright grotesque, because compared to other nitrogen fertilizers, calcium cyanamide is characterized by particularly low nitrate leaching and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Calcium cyanamide is one of the best-studied fertilizers of all. In nearly 114 years of application practice, there has not been a single confirmed case of environmental damage." On the contrary, in a fertilization trial lasting more than 50 years, scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) had even "demonstrated the highest biological soil activity of all fertilization variants" on the calcium cyanamide plots.
CEO Andreas Niedermaier expressed his incomprehension of the EU authority's actions, also in view of the greater independence from China that the EU as a whole is striving for. He said that the German government and a large majority in the Bundestag were also committed to this goal. "A ban on calcium cyanamide fertilization in the EU would jeopardize the production network in Trostberg and further increase dependence on China for important intermediate products. No one can want that in this day and age."
A ban on this proven fertilizer would also have a negative impact on climate protection in Europe. This is because a newly developed Alzchem product based on calcium cyanamide (Eminex®) can largely prevent the particularly climate-damaging emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from manure silos even by adding small quantities. Its good effectiveness has now been confirmed by several independent institutes. CEO Andreas Niedermaier: "We know of no other process that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture so quickly, so effectively and so cost-effectively." Carsten Träger said, "With the contribution to food security and climate protection through the binding of methane, Alzchem has two high trump cards in its hand. Now the trial must succeed in convincing the inspectors that the input of calcium cyanamide is harmless to microorganisms."
The delegates were impressed by Alzchem's diverse product developments. "The importance of these specialty chemicals for many supply chains in German and European industry has not yet been sufficiently recognized by politicians," Bernd Westphal commented after the exchange of information. It is not acceptable that a large number of well-paid and socially very well protected jobs in Germany are put at risk on the basis of a questionable expert opinion, while at the same time we are becoming completely dependent on Chinese suppliers for important specialty chemicals.
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