RWE AG is a German multinational energy company headquartered in Essen. It generates and trades electricity in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. The company is the world's number two in offshore wind power and Europe's third largest in renewable energy. In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000, RWE Group was ranked as the 297th -largest public company in the world.
|Founded||25 April 1898|
|Markus Krebber (President and CEO), Manfred Schneider (Chairman of the supervisory board)|
|Revenue||€13.125 billion (2019)|
|€1.267 billion (2019)|
|€1.210 billion (2019)|
|Total assets||€39.846 billion (2019)|
|Total equity||€5.738 billion (2019)|
Number of employees
RWE confirmed in December 2015, that it would separate its renewable energy generation, power grid and retail operations into a separate company, Innogy SE, during 2016, and sell a 10% holding in the business through an initial public offering. The restructuring was caused by an effort to reduce the group's exposure to nuclear decommissioning costs, required due to a German government policy of closing all nuclear power stations by 2022.
In July 2019, RWE's handling of the conflict with activists in the Hambach Forest were strongly criticized in the media. The company finally agreed to refrain from clearing the forest until autumn 2020.
Pre-World War IEdit
The company was founded in Essen in 1898, as Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk Aktiengesellschaft (Rhenish-Westphalian Power Plant) by Elektrizitäts-Actien-Gesellschaft vorm. W. Lahmeyer & Company (EAG) and others. The full name was used until 1990 when it was renamed to RWE AG. Its first power station started operating in Essen in 1900. In 1902, EAG sold its shares to a consortium formed by Ruhr industrialists Hugo Stinnes and August Thyssen.
In 1906, it expanded its operations beyond Essen by acquiring Elektrizitätswerk Berggeist AG in Brühl, and Bergische Elektrizitätswerke GmbH, Solingen. During the same year, it also acquired shareholdings in the tramway companies Bochum-Gelsenkirchener Straßenbahn AG and Rheinische Bahngesellschaft AG.
In 1908, RWE signed demarcation contracts with Städtische Elektrizitätswerk Dortmund and Elektrizitätswerk Westfalen AG. Together they created Westfälische Verbands-Elektrizitätswerk AG. RWE contributed to the newly established company by its power station in Dortmund–Kruckel and the supply grid in Witten/Dortmund. Later all these companies formed Vereinigte Elektrizitätswerke Westfalen AG (VEW).
In 1909, RWE opened the Reisholz Power Plant and acquired a stake in the tram company Süddeutsche Eisenbahngesellschaft AG. RWE also started to build its own gas supply network in 1909. Deliveries of coal gas to the Bergisches Land region started in 1912. In 1914, RWE opened Vorgebirgszentrale power plant in Hürth. By 1920, the plant had installed capacity of 190 megawatts, which made it the largest in Europe.
Before World War I, municipalities of Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr, and Gelsenkirchen, became shareholders in RWE. By the 1920s, Bonn, Cologne, Krefeld, Duisburg, and Düsseldorf also became shareholders and municipalities owned the majority of RWE's shares. In 1925, the Prussian state became a shareholder in RWE. In 1929, municipalities and the Rhine Province combined their shareholdings into a holding company Kommunale Aufnahmegruppe für Aktien GmbH.
Interwar years and World War IIEdit
In 1920, RWE acquired Niedersächsische Kraftwerke AG, located in Osnabrück. In 1922, it expanded its coal business by acquiring three anthracite mines in Essen and a majority stake in the lignite company Braunkohlen- und Briketwerke Roddergrube AG. In 1923, it acquired its founder company EAG. Three years later, the company acquired a stake in Rheinische Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft (Rheinelektra) and became a shareholder in the newly established Ruhrgas gas company in exchange of its gas grid. In 1927, RWE and Prussia swapped their holdings in the Brunswick and Cologne coalfields and RWE became an owner of Braunkohlen-Industrie AG Zukunft.
In 1932, RWE acquired a majority stake in the coal company Rheinische Aktiengesellschaft für Braunkohlenbergbau (Rheinbraun). In 1936, it acquired Niederrheinische Braunkohlenwerke AG, an operator of the Frimmersdorf Power Plant.
Since autumn 1943, the Essen state police had been investigating Wilhelm Ricken, RWE's technical director and designated general director, for "subversion of the military". The then First Mayor of Essen, Just Dillgardt, who was also second chairman of RWE's Supervisory Board, had reported Ricken to the state police. Previously, he had received a tip from the then commercial director and fellow board member of Ricken, Friedrich Praedel. This "board member" of RWE is said to have pushed Dillgardt to press charges. Wilhelm Ricken was then arrested on 20 October 1943, and sentenced to death on 8 March 1944, by the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court), partly because of his statement that "the war would end like 1918". On 2 May 1944, Wilhelm Ricken was executed in Berlin-Plötzensee.
Developments since World War IIEdit
During World War II, the infrastructure owned by RWE was severely damaged but mostly repaired by 1948. In 1952, the company was excluded from the Allies' control. In 1957, RWE acquired the coal company Neurath AG.
RWE and the Bavarian state-owned 'Bayernwerk' joined forces to build Germany's first industrial nuclear reactor. The Kahl experimental nuclear power plant (15 megawatts), constructed right next to RWE's Dettingen hard coal fired power plant, supplied its first electricity in 1962. Until its closure in 1985, this plant would serve as a source of important findings which supported the design and operation of commercial nuclear reactors.
RWE's nuclear operations started in 1961, when RWE and Bayernwerk (now part of E.ON) started to build the first German industrial nuclear reactor—the Kahl Nuclear Power Plant. In 1962, they started to build the Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Plant. In 1965, the at the request of the surrounding municipalities, the Karnap power plant in Essen started to burn domestic waste.
In 1971, founded Gesellschaft für elektrischen Straßenverkehr, a company to develop an electric car for commercial scale production. The prototype presented in 1983 was produced in cooperation with Volkswagen and named City-Stromer.
In 1988, RWE again expanded into the oil industry by acquiring Deutsche Texaco, formerly known as Deutsche Erdoel AG, which was renamed RWE-DEA AG für Mineralöl und Chemie (RWE-DEA). RWE was reorganized to hold energy, mining and raw materials; petroleum and chemicals; waste management; mechanical and plant engineering; and construction divisions.
In the 1990s, RWE acquired a number of assets in the former East Germany, including stakes in the mining company Lausitzer Braunkohle AG (LAUBAG) and the power company VEAG. In 2000, RWE and VEW merged to create a "new" RWE, and stakes in LAUBAG and VEAG (now both merged into Vattenfall Europe) were sold to avoid competition violation.
In 2001, RWE took over the British company Thames Water. In 2002, it acquired American Water Works Company, based in New Jersey, which became a subsidiary of Thames Water. In 2006, RWE sold Thames Water to Kemble Water Limited, a consortium led by Macquarie Group. RWE previously owned American Water, the United States' largest investor-owned water utility, but this was divested in 2008.
As a result of the assets swap with RAG AG, RWE gave away its stake in the power company STEAG. It received almost full control of the renewable energy company Harpen AG. The full control of Harpen was achieved in 2005. In 2003, RWE also achieved full control over Thyssengas. In the same year, it decided to divest its American coal company Consol Energy.
On 14 August 2012, RWE AG announced that the company would cut 2,400 more jobs to reduce costs. Previously the company had announced to eliminate 5,000 jobs and 3,000 jobs through divestments as anticipated of closing all nuclear reactors by 2022.
In August 2013, RWE completed the disposal of NET4GAS, the Czech gas transmission network operator, for €1.6 billion to a consortium consisting of Allianz and Borealis. The company (named Transgas A.S. then) was privatized to RWE in 2002. In the 2000s, RWE also acquired energy companies in Poland (STOEN S.A.) and Slovenia (VSE a.s).
It also owned RWE Dea (now DEA AG), which produced some of the oil and gas RWE sold (annual production is around 2 million m3 of crude oil (about 365,000 BOE) and 3 billion m3 of natural gas (about 18 million BOE, 49,300 BOE) a day. In March 2015, RWE closed the sale of RWE Dea to a group led by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman despite opposition from UK regulators. The $5.6 billion deal, announced in 2014, required approval from 14 countries where RWE Dea operates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
On 1 April 2016, RWE transferred its renewable, network and retail businesses into a separate company named Innogy, which is listed at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The new entity combined RWE subsidiaries RWE Innogy, RWE Deutschland, RWE Effizienz, RWE Vertrieb and RWE Energiedienstleistungen.
In March 2018, it was announced that E.ON will acquire Innogy in a complex €43 billion deal of assets swap with RWE. As a result, RWE will take a 16.7% stake in E.ON. Following the purchase of E.ON's renewables business and nuclear electricity generation assets, RWE is expected to become Europe's third-largest renewable energy provider behind Spain's Iberdrola and Italy's Enel, and the second-largest in the market for offshore wind power.
|Year||Revenue||Net Income||Total Assets||Employees|
RWE operates in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. The group is organized around four core areas:
- Offshore Wind
- Onshore Wind/Solar
- Supply & Trading
In addition to these core areas, there is a Coal/Nuclear segment.
In the UK, RWE fully owns RWE Generation UK plc., which operates a number of natural gas and renewable energy power stations across the UK. RWE's last coal-fired power station in the UK, Aberthaw Power Station in South Wales, was closed in March 2020. The company owns the gas-fired power stations Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire, Pembroke in West Wales, Little Barford in Bedfordshire, Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Didcot 'B' Station in Oxfordshire. It has previously closed its Didcot 'A' Power Station in Oxfordshire, Littlebrook Power Station in Kent, Fawley Power Station in Hampshire, and Tilbury Power Station in Essex.
Fuel mix disclosureEdit
In 2019, RWE produced a total of 153.2 TWh of electricity from the following sources: 33.2% natural gas, 31.5% lignite, 13.8% nuclear power, 10.7% renewables, 9.3% hard coal and 1.2% pumped storage. In 2019, the company generated 88.1 Mt of CO2. Electricity production at the German branch of RWE had the following environmental implications in 2006: 700 μg/kWh radioactive waste and 752 g/kWh CO2 emissions. In 2007, the company ranked between the 28th and the 29th place of emitters by country.
Criticism and controversiesEdit
RWE has long been among the top targets of climate activists, in part as a result of a long-running, high-profile battle to preserve a forest in western Germany that is threatened by the planned expansion of one of the group's coal mines. RWE also operates some of the largest coal-fired power stations in Europe.
Since 2012, environmentalists have protested against RWE because of the Hambach surface mine situated in the area of Hambach Forest. In November 2017, in the lawsuit filed by Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), the German arm of Friends of the Earth, the Higher Administrative Court in Münster ruled to end the tree cutting. According to BUND, Hambach Forest is a habitat type 9160 of annex I of the European Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992).
Opponents also argue that an environmental impact assessment study for the mine was never conducted. The Administrative Court in Cologne denied the necessity of such a study in November 2017, because the permission for the mining operations was given in the 1970s, long before environmental impact assessment studies became mandatory. In October 2018, an estimated 50,000 protesters turned out against the company's planned continued forest clear-cutting for its open-pit coal mine expansion while a court order delayed the process until at least late 2020, to explore if it violated EU environmental regulations.
In September 2021, it was revealed that RWE are among a number of fossil fuel companies suing governments for enacting green policies against climate change. RWE are suing the Dutch government for $1.6bn following their move to phase out and shut down coal power plants.
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