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RWE announces further push into renewables

Solar power.

German power giant RWE has announced a solar acquisition and further wind expansion as part of a planned €50 billion investment in renewable energy by 2030.

The acquisition of Alpha Solar sees a utility-scale expansion of solar power in Poland.

RWE Renewables, in a consortium with Equinor and Hydro REIN, signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Windport AS, to supply port facilities in the Mandal area of the North Sea.

RWE’s focus this past year has been on offshore wind but solar is not neglected as RWE drives forward its net zero strategy for 2040.

German power giant RWE has acquired Alpha Solar, a Polish PV company, adding 3GW of solar to its portfolio and building on its links with the coal heavy country. RWE also announced an MoU to develop offshore port facilities in the North Sea, continuing its offshore wind drive. 

These announcements show RWE’s commitment in terms of its target of generating 50 GW of renewably powered electricity by 2030.

Embracing transition

RWE used to be a coal-oriented power generator based in the industrial heartland of North Rhine Westphalia. Coal and nuclear were its main sources of energy. In the last 11 years especially it has pivoted the company away from coal and nuclear as it got a double legislative hit from the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive legislation, which wound down the running of coal-fired power stations across Europe by 2015, and by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. That prompted a drastic and sudden decision by the German government to remove nuclear from Germany’s energy mix.

Now RWE is mission focused on green energy, emphasised in the preface to its 2021 annual report. It plans a €50 billion investment in green growth in the current decade “Because as a world leading power provider, we shoulder a unique responsibility for implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Partnership with Poland focuses on renewable energy

Poland, Europe’s second largest coal-mining country after Germany, used to be 100% reliant on coal and has been a staunch resistor of the European push to divest of coal-fired power generation. According to Warsaw-based independent think tank Forum Energi, 87% of all coal consumed in EU homes is in Poland. 

Synergies with RWE used to be coal based but now RWE is solely looking at Poland in terms of renewable energy potential. As it points out in its annual report, Poland intends to increase the share of renewables in its power generation portfolio to 32 % in 2030; in 2020 this figure stood at 16 %. Dramatically increasing the share of renewable energy coincides with Poland’s needs since it banned coal imports from Russia in April of this year.

Since entering the Polish renewables market in 2007 RWE now operates over 420 MW in onshore windfarms, the country’s first PV plants and is developing one of the first offshore wind projects in the Polish Baltic Sea. At the moment, there are no wind farms off the coast of Poland. 

The offshore windfarm, that thrust through planning when the Polish government finalised the legal framework for offshore wind farm subsidies in January 2021, will deliver 350 MW and supply 350,000 households.

Solar pick-up

However compared to 1,245 GWh generated from onshore wind in Poland, RWE was just generating 1GWh from solar. This solar investment redresses the balance.

RWE stated that it also plans to build and commission new PV projects in Poland with a capacity of about 70 MWac in 2022 and 2023.

The renewable energy capacity that it gives RWE control of, more than doubles what the company has commissioned since the start of 2021. That has amounted to 14 wind and solar farms with a total capacity of 1.2 GW. Many of these projects have been delayed due to supply chain issues.

Katja Wünschel, CEO Onshore Wind and PV Europe & Australia, RWE Renewables, said: “This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity for RWE to diversify our global solar footprint, while further enhancing our local capabilities and renewables project pipeline in Poland. The country offers good locations for solar plants. We warmly welcome our new colleagues at RWE. Together with the existing team we are well positioned to implement this large-scale project pipeline.”

Southern Norway Offshore wind hub gets logistics support

RWE is bringing its experience with offshore wind to the consortium investing in an offshore wind hub in the Mandal area of Norway. The MoU of the consortium partners RWE Renewables, Equinor and Hydro REIN, with Windport secures assembly and logistics.

“A large-scale offshore wind farm at Sørlige Nordsjø II could play a key role in expanding the North Sea as an offshore energy hub, and create new industrial opportunities,” says Arne Eik, project director for Sørlige Nordsjø II from Equinor. 

“We are pleased to enter into this initiative. The Norwegian Government has set a target for offshore wind of 30 GW in Norway by 2040. The North Sea has among the world’s best wind resources. 

RWE has secured leases for offshore wind farm sites in Great Britain, Germany, Denmark and the USA where it can build up to 8 GW of generation capacity.  In RWE’s Kaskasi offshore wind power project, recyclable blades have even been put in. 

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