Plug & Play Production Concept: Chemical Parks
Today, the “plug & play” concept is widely understood and appreciated. Sites (i.e. chemical parks) commonly offer a comprehensive range of services which are customized to the needs of prospective international or domestic investors. The major benefits to both the site operator or owner and the investor are shared site overheads for increased cost effectiveness. Chemical parks offer a wide range of flexible business models which are attractive for potential investors. Subject to their individual requirements, investors can simply buy or lease land from the site owner in order to establish their own production unit. At the other end of the scale, the business model might consist of a site operator investing in and operating new plant for the investor on a custom or toll-manufacturing basis.
Chemical Infrastructure: Pipeline Network
The major chemical carbon source, crude oil, is distributed by an advanced net of pipelines. Twelve refineries (with a total capacity of about 100 million tons per year – equivalent to 3% of global capacity) and eight steam crackers supply Germany’s chemical industry with all of the necessary building blocks. Of the 145 million tons of chemicals transported annually in Germany, 36% are transported by pipeline. Major chemical sites are interconnected through pipelines that transport raw materials such as ethylene within the country and via Belgium and the Netherlands to neighboring chemical production centers and Europe’s northwestern seaports. There are also hydrogen, carbon monoxide and oxygen pipelines between chemical parks with a specialized production focus.
Energy Security: Low Power Outages in the World
The security of Germany’s electricity supply is very high by international standards. In marked contrast to the US and other countries in Europe where major blackouts are recurrent, power outages are definitely the exception in Germany. The average amount of time lost to blackouts in the US is nearly four hours per year and in Spain two hours per year. Italy and the UK suffer from outages of around 80 minutes per year. However, these all exceed the German average of just 40 minutes per year.
Research & Development: Cutting-Edge Infrastructure
About 22,000 employees work in the German chemical industrial R&D units with annual industry R&D expenditure amounting EUR 4.6 billion. Industry R&D efforts are complemented by institutional R&D. Publicly funded research units of the Max-Planck Society, the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association, and the Leibniz Association undertake R&D in close cooperation with the industry; often taking place within Germany's unique chemical cluster network infrastructure. The unique combination of industrial and institutional R&D represents an immensely valuable source of capacity for international companies. Thanks to institutional research’s privileging of practical expertise, project-oriented cooperation between industry and institutions is commonplace – ensuring that Germany's chemical industry remains at the international cutting edge.
Workforce and Training: Unique Training System
Germany's chemical industry has a highly trained workforce of more than 360,000 employees. As in other German industry sectors, a unique training system provides the industry with skilled workers according to the company's needs via the vocational or “dual” training system. This enables young employees to specialize on chemical laboratory work, product development or production from the age of 16 onward. This system is accompanied by bachelor and master programs in chemistry offered nationwide (about 50 universities offer classical master degrees in chemistry supplemented by chemical engineering, biochemistry etc.). As well as this, 14 universities of applied sciences offer programs in chemistry. The combination of vocational and advanced training is pivotal to the success of the German chemical industry.