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RWE's green energy revolution

Oliver Tickell

3rd November 2010

German energy giant RWE will transform into a decentralized energy provider and enabler of renewable technologies.

According to leaked company documents published by Energy Post, RWE's Board agreed on the new direction at a meeting in Warsaw in September. The company will now "depart from its traditional developer and ownership roles of centralized power plants and instead help use its expertise to help manage and integrate renewables into the grid."

RWE's new strategy is to "create value by leading the transition to the future energy world ... with our mission, we emphasize that we are doing all in our power to become the most trusted, high-performing partner for the transition of the European energy landscape."

"Developing an innovative and profitable prosumer business model is a challenge we also need to address successfully, as we see a billion-euro market emerging alongside our traditional value chain."

The company wants to become a renewable energy "enabler", according to the documents. "The guiding principle is 'from volume to value' with technologies ranging from large-scale offshore wind and hydro to onshore wind or photovoltaic. But we will no longer pursue volume- or percentage- targets in renewables (x TWh/y % in 2025). We will rather leverage our skills set by taking a 'capital light' approach. Based on funds sourced largely from third parties, we will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator and system integrator of renewables."

The change will reflect initially on RWE's German operations where earnings and share price have collapsed over the last few years as a side effect of Germany's Energiewende or 'Energy path', which is seeing conventional nuclear and fossil energy progressively replaced by renewables. RWE notes that "The massive erosion of wholesale prices caused by the growth of German photovoltaics constitutes a serious problem for RWE which may even threaten the company's survival."

RWE's internal revolution will ultimately work its way across Europe including the UK where it operates as RWE nPower, the successor to the generator National Power. The company's goal is that in five years' time, "RWE will have been vital in shaping the energy industry across Europe." This opens up the prospect of accelerated development of renewable energy in the UK.



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