Exclusive: Germany's RWE bets big on wind and solar in corporate overhaul
By Tom Käckenhoff, Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - RWE could triple investments in wind and solar power in a big expansion of its renewables business, its CEO told Reuters, days after the company announced it would break itself up to cope with a crisis in conventional energy generation.
Germany's second-largest utility unveiled the major overhaul on Tuesday; it plans to hive off its healthiest divisions - renewables, grids and retail - into a separately listed entity.
The aim is to shield them from a crisis that has beset its conventional energy production business, stemming from the German government's decision to close nuclear plants by 2022 and a slump in wholesale power prices that has hit the profitability of its coal and gas-fired plants.
In his first interview after the announcement of the restructuring plan - welcomed by investors as a smart move - Chief Executive Peter Terium said on Thursday that investments in renewable energy could triple to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) per year.
Terium, who took over as RWE boss in 2012, did not specify a timeframe for the increase, and said the group would not seek expansion at any price.
"We won't burn money. It's about being profitable."
A latecomer to renewables, RWE is trying to catch up with rivals in what is currently the strongest-growing part of an otherwise shrinking power generation industry, where solar and wind power is fast replacing coal and gas-fired plants.
RWE made 8 percent of its core earnings (EBITDA) from renewables last year, compared with 18 percent at larger German peer E.ON, for example. Continued...