Coronavirus crisis accelerates investments in sustainability – RWE CEO
The coronavirus crisis is accelerating investments in sustainability rather than pushing aside climate change as a concern to investors, German energy company RWE’s CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz told Handelsblatt in an interview. Schmitz sees an “incredibly big” market for renewable power projects worldwide, and thus also ample opportunity to carry out planned investments over the coming years. Schmitz said that RWE would not have had a future without the 2018 deal with E.ON that allowed for its re-entry into the renewables business. The company would be ready to bring the coal exit forward by three years compared to Germany's official phase-out deadline, meaning that coal-fired power generation could already end by 2035. This option had been embedded in the coal exit law and can enter into effect as long as renewables and grid expansion are sufficient, Schmitz said.
The renewables transformation among German utilities is gathering pace thanks to renewables becoming clear profit-makers that are attractive to investors. Schmitz told Handelsblatt that he had misjudged “the speed at which renewable energies became economical”. Despite the fact that energy giant RWE is publicly perceived as a traditional coal and nuclear company and still generates the vast majority of its electricity with fossil fuels, its renewables section is expanding fast, especially after the takeover of the renewables assets of former rival E.ON at the beginning of July.