RWE set to shut or convert coal plants

RWE has set out plans to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040. – although it said it will continue to be “a responsible producer of power from all energy sources” including gas-fired generation.

It wants to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030, in addition to the 30% reduction (60Mt) already achieved between 2012 and 2018.

The company has altready announced it will close its last UK coal-fired station, Aberthaw, after the coming winter. Now it will start to shut down coal-fired plants in Germany and the Netherlands (where the  government wants its country’s coal-based electricity generation to end by 2030) or convert them to biomass.

In future, in addition to a large international portfolio including wind turbines and PV, RWE said it will “place its chips on storage, biomass and gas-fired power stations primarily fired by ‘green’ gas”.

“We will make huge investments in wind and solar power as well as in high-capacity storage technologies. The new RWE is and will remain one of the major players in the electricity generation business,” said chief executive Rolf Martin Schmitz.

He said the renewable energy portfolios of E.On and innogy, combined to form RWE Renewables, will turn the company into a “global player made in Germany”. It already has  an installed capacity of more than 9GW in operation and  2.6GW under construction and it promised annual investment of €1.5 billion in offshore and onshore wind turbines, PV and storage, which it hopes to match with funding from partners.

In future only 20% of earnings will come from the conventional business. About 60% will come from renewable energy and 10% from energy trading and 10% from financial investments, including Amprion, Kelag and E.On. 

In addition to a lean holding company, the new RWE and its 20,000 employees worldwide will consist of four operating companies: RWE Renewables, RWE Supply & Trading, RWE Generation and RWE Power.