RWE targets climate neutrality by 2040 as sun sets on coal
RWE AG, Europe’s biggest carbon-dioxide emitter, plans to become climate neutral by 2040 as the German utility shutters its remaining coal-fired power plants.
Chief Executive Officer Rolf Martin Schmitz on Monday said the utility would cut its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 compared with 2012 levels. It will decommission its last U.K. coal plant next year and convert two facilities in the Netherlands to burn biomass. It will still operate 6 coal-fired plants in Germany, but has earmarked 1.5 billion euros ($1.64 billion) per year to expand in renewables.
The plan fits with Germany’s 2038 goal to exit coal-fired power generation, which is vital for Europe’s biggest economy to make good on its climate targets – currently behind schedule. RWE had in part chosen the 2040 target as it “sounds better” than 2038, Schmitz said at a press conference in Essen.
RWE’s target of carbon neutrality by 2040 follows the closure of its asset swap with one-time rival EON SE. Under the deal, RWE’s acquisition of EON’s green assets will see the firm boost the share of renewables in its portfolio. The company will eventually generate 60% of its earnings from green power generation.
RWE has been a frequent target for climate protesters who argue its fleet of coal-fired power stations are a threat to the planet. Protests at the Hambach lignite mine have prevented the company mining the site.
The company is also operating gas-fired plants. Schmitz said some of them would be converted to burn green hydrogen. There is no plan to close the whole fleet, according to a spokeswoman.
“Every energy has its era, now begins the renewables era,” Schmitz said.
(By William Wilkes)