RWE unveils plans for €50bn renewable energy investment this decade

Pictured: The 400MW Rampion Wind Farm in Sussex

The German multinational announced the new renewable energy strategy on Monday (15 November), dubbing it ‘Growing Green’. Should it deliver the renewable capacity additions promised, the rate of capacity increase will be 70% higher each year going forward than it was in 2020 – 2.5GW per year through to 2030 compared to 1.5GW in 2020.

Included in the 50GW figure are expanded and new solar and wind farms, new battery capacity and new green hydrogen generation across Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific Region.

On green hydrogen, RWE is planning to develop 2GW of electrolyser capacity this decade, entirely within Europe.

In other clean energy subsectors, RWE intends to triple its offshore wind capacity from 2.4GW to 8GW; expand installed onshore wind capacity from 7GW to 20GW; grow its solar portfolio from 1GW to 8GW and add 2.4GW of battery capacity to the 0.6GW already in operation.

RWE has also firmed up plans for additional gas-fired peaking plants with a generation capacity of at least 2GW, to add to its existing 14GW fleet across the UK, Germany, Belgium and Turkey. The firm has stated that it will develop decarbonisation roadmaps for all new and existing gas power stations in line with national climate targets.

At least 13GW of additional capacity will be delivered by the end of 2022 under the plans.

Change in approach

RWE’s chief executive Markus Krebber said the launch of the ‘Growing Green’ strategy marks a “successful completion” of a “comprehensive strategic transformation”.

The announcement today is the first major strategic update since RWE announced an ambition in 2019 to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Krebber said: “RWE can deliver what the green energy world needs: electricity from wind and sun, for which the demand is increasing more and more; storage systems and flexible generation capacity to secure supply; expertise and drive to ramp up the hydrogen economy; integrated customer solutions to supply industry with green energy; and a massive reduction in CO2 to contribute towards the achievement of the Paris Agreement targets.

“The transformation to a climate-neutral society requires companies that put all their efforts into this task.”

The firm first separated its renewable energy initiatives from its core business in 2015 and, at that time, it controlled just 3.5GW of renewable energy generation capacity.

It is worth noting that RWE does still have a portfolio of 14 hard coal and lignite plants in Germany and that it closed its last UK coal plant – Abertshaw Power Station in Wales – last year. The firm criticised the German Government’s decision to legislate for an end to coal-fired power by 2038 when it was first introduced but has this year stated that it will be ready to phase-out coal in Germany ahead of the required deadline.

Also this year, activist fund Enkraft has purchased 500,000 shares in RWE and has stated that it will use its influence to push the business to separate its legacy coal activities from its other activities. This is intended to make its renewable energy activities more attractive to investors.

Sarah George

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