The elderly remember: The industry of the Federal Republic of Germany was booming – televisions, long-distance travel and VW Beetles were suddenly affordable for ordinary citizens. Sun instead of worries, "prosperity for all" as a slogan for the economic miracle of the fifties and sixties.

Bernd Freytag

Economic correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar, based in Mainz.

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Christian Müßgens

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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Uwe Marx

Editor in business.

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Johannes Pennekamp

Editor in charge of business reporting.

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Those times are coming back. At least that's what Olaf Scholz promises. Through the green transformation of the economy, i.e. the conversion of factories and products towards climate neutrality, growth rates like those at the time of the economic miracle are possible, says the SPD chancellor.

The key to a possible economic miracle is industry. It accounts for almost a quarter of Germany's economic output and has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by a good 1990 percent since 40. Now comes the Herculean task: By 2045, it must save the remaining 60 percent emissions – and supply the world with so many electric cars, heat pumps and efficient machines that prosperity in this country increases, not decreases.

At odds with the Chancellor

Is that realistic? The F.A.Z. took a look at the core industries – mechanical engineering, the automotive industry, chemicals – to see how far the transformation has progressed and how the opportunities in global competition are changing. The results and the assessments of researchers are at odds with the Chancellor's hopes. There is no talk of the "economic miracle" outside of Berlin.

The hopes are still greatest in mechanical engineering. The decisive question for the industry, which employs more than one million people in Germany, is whether it can become the global supplier for the energy transition or whether it can be undermined by Asian and American competitors. Mechanical engineering companies are hoping for good business because customers and investors expect low-emission products and processes – above all, they expect a huge market for green technologies.

In a study, the consulting firm BCG estimates what can be gained in the field of green technologies: According to this, a global sales volume of more than 2040 trillion dollars can be expected by 25 – especially for renewable energies, i.e. solar systems and wind turbines with 9 trillion dollars, for power grids with 7 trillion dollars and for energy storage with 4 trillion dollars. If the mechanical engineers, who are themselves responsible for 0.2 gigatonnes of emissions, succeed in securing a significant share of this, the signs are pointing to growth.

Germany with a "good starting position" in green technologies

KfW Chief Economist Fritzi Köhler-Geib said: "The global market for green technologies is projected to grow by around 2030 per cent per year until 7. Germany, as the second-largest exporter of environmental and climate protection goods with a world market share of 12 percent, has a good starting position here." This is not a foregone conclusion, as the sad history of German photovoltaic system manufacturers shows. As soon as new technology becomes a commodity, Germany will be at a competitive disadvantage.

In the automotive industry, too, market shares are being redistributed due to the triumph of electric cars. The German Economic Institute, which is close to employers, has calculated that 260,000 people in this industry are involved in combustion engines, powertrains and exhaust gas purification. Their jobs are most at risk – also because new rivals such as BYD and Tesla are pushing into the electric market and challenging German brand manufacturers for market share.