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13 Aug 2020, 12:33
Alex Dziadosz

RWE lignite electricity production drops sharply – report

Clean Energy Wire/Focus Online/Rheinische Post

Utility RWE’s production from lignite coal fell sharply over the first half of 2020, even before the effects of Germany’s planned coal phase-out kick in, according to the company’s financial results. The company said that it plans to decommission its first lignite-fired unit with a total capacity of 300 megawatts by the end of the year. An additional 2,500 megawatts will be decommissioned over the following two years, and two-thirds of its lignite capacity will be shut down by 2030. The company said that 3,000 jobs would be shed in the sector by the end of 2022, and more than 6,000 jobs are would be cut by 2030. RWE called on the government to sign a public-law contract and pass a guideline on adjustment allowances for employees following the summer parliamentary recess.
A dpa report carried by Die Welt said that the company’s power plants in the Rhine area supplied 40 percent less electricity than in the same period one year earlier, while RWE's own renewables power generation actually produced more than lignite from January to June. RWE said that lignite and coal currently account for around 30 percent of its generation capacities and that share is scheduled to shrink to below 10 percent within a decade.

The public utility in the North Rhine-Westphalia town of Krefeld, meanwhile, faced criticism from local environmental activists for purchasing RWE shares for 2.4 million euros, Jens Voss writes in the Rheinische Post. "Even if RWE has apparently taken a new path, they are still a company that converts lignite into electricity and is therefore one of the biggest polluters and obstacles to the energy transition in Europe," the Green Party's mayoral candidate Thorsten Hansen was quoted as saying. Germany is aiming to phase out its last coal plants by 2038 at the latest.

Germany's energy transition has shaken the country’s dominant power companies to the core, because it undermines their traditional business model of centralised power generation. Investments in renewable energy sources, spin-offs and big asset swaps have been part of the strategies of RWE, E.ON,  Vattenfall and EnBW to cope with a new energy world.

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