German utility to quadruple renewable power, including hydro, ocean

Germany’s largest power producer, RWE, announced it plans to more than quadruple its generating capacity from renewable energy, including hydropower and ocean energy sources, by boosting investment throughout Europe.

RWE Chief Executive Juergen Grossmann said November 21 the company plans to increase investments, mainly in wind power, to at least 1 billion euros (US$1.48 billion) annually from 2008.

To coordinate its renewables activities, RWE is setting up a division called RWE Innogy to pool about 1,500 MW, most of its renewable energy resources, from February 2008. Grossmann named Fritz Vahrenholt, former chief executive of German windfarm maker Repower, to be head of RWE Innogy.

The RWE Innogy title revives the name of a renewable energy firm RWE acquired in the United Kingdom and renamed npower renewables. (HNN 2/22/07)

The utility intends for renewable energy to comprise 20 percent of its generating capacity by 2020, in line with a target for the member countries of the European Union. Right now, about 5 percent of RWE’s power plants use renewable energy sources.

The utility plans to raise that share mainly through expanding existing businesses and to a lesser extent through takeovers. While the utility’s focus is on wind power, it is prepared to invest in all other forms of renewable energies including hydropower.

Among RWE’s hydropower activity, an RWE subsidiary, Rheinkraftwerk Albbruck-Dogern AG, is developing a new 24-MW weir power station at the 84-MW Albbruck-Dogern project on the Rhine River. (HNN 5/1/07)

�We aim to have a significant influence on developments relating to solar, geothermal, tidal, and wave power plants,� Vahrenholt added. �Incidentally, and this may come as a surprise to you, we at RWE are already well out of the starting blocks in this regard, too.�

Vahrenholt noted the company currently is investigating the possibility of building a wave power plant in the harbor of Lewis Island in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland in the United Kingdom. In 2006, npower renewables and wave power developer Wavegen reached agreement aimed at developing a 3-MW wave power plant on Lewis Island that would use technology based on Wavegen’s oscillating water column technology. (HNN 8/8/06)

RWE also might invest directly in companies developing renewable energy and might sell shares in the new division to investors in an initial public offering, Grossmann said.

In August, RWE signed an agreement with Swiss hydropower utility Energie Ouest Suisse (EOS) to exchange hydroelectric and coal-fired power. (HNN 8/27/07) The utilities agreed they have the possibility to exchange RWE’s coal-fired base load generation — about 1 billion kWh per year — for peak load hydroelectric generation by EOS.

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