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RWE to be carbon neutral from 2040 as utility doubles down on renewables, storage investments

Image: RWE.

Image: RWE.

German power giant RWE has set its sights on being carbon neutral by 2040, aided by a slew of investments in renewables and decommissioning of coal plants.

Speaking earlier today, RWE group chief executive Rolf Martin Schmitz spoke of how it was “day one for the new RWE”, with the entity having now completed its significant asset-swap deal with E.On.

The speech itself was delivered from the construction site of a new campus for RWE. That facility will house more than 3,000 employees and it is from there that the company will plot its course for a carbon neutral future.

He outlined three specific stages of the company’s evolution. Stage one, which ran from 2012 until 2018, witnessed the utility remove around 60 million metric tons from its emissions, equivalent to around one-third, as it set about embracing low carbon generation.

RWE finds itself currently in stage of that transition, Martin Schmitz said, which will ultimately see the company reduce it emissions by 70% compared to 2012 levels by the year 2030. That goal will be reached through the decommissioning of various coal plants owned and operated by the company, specifically in the UK.

Its third stage, which will run from 2030 until 2040, will see RWE eliminate the rest of its carbon emissions, becoming a carbon neutral utility by its end date.

It will achieve this principally through major investments in wind, solar and energy storage projects, with conventional generation used in key markets – including Germany, the UK and Benelux – to help stabilise local grids against an influx of variable generators.

Martin Schmitz was however keen to stress that “no-one knows what 2040 will look like”, and that digitisation and new innovations would play a critical role in decarbonising power generation in markets across the globe.

Nevertheless, Martin Schmitz was clear that RWE is dedicated to realising the “herculean task” of eliminating its emissions within the next 20 years.

Markus Krebber, chief financial officer at RWE, doubled down on the utility’s commitment to new technologies, stressing that digitisation and electrification would “dominate all realms of society” in the near future and that high-density storage technologies would be a particular area of focus for the German power giant moving forward.

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