Leading RWE's Exit from Brown Coal

RWE.dpa.Patrick Pleul
Brown coal power plants like this one in the German state of Brandenburg are being phased out by the government.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Thousands of jobs and billions in costs are at stake as German energy giant RWE creates a green-energy subsidiary also wrestles with the demise of its traditional business due to the country’s transition to renewable energy.

  • Facts


    • Germany aims to phase out all nuclear energy by 2022 and draw at least 80 percent of energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2050.
    • Rolf Martin Schmitz will soon manager RWE’s former core fossil-fuel and nuclear-power business.
    • The company’s current CEO, Peter Terium, will head the its renewable energy subsidiary.
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Rolf Martin Schmitz cuts an inconspicuous figure as he hurries through Berlin in a hat and trench coat, looking a bit like a detective. But the current deputy and future chief executive of German energy giant RWE doesn’t tread softly, nor does his appearance fit his mission.

As the man who pulls the political strings for RWE in Berlin, he has been negotiating with a government panel for months about how much the company should pay into a fund for handling nuclear waste.

He speaks bluntly, often loudly, arguing that RWE can’t afford to contribute more than the current reserves of €10 billion, or $11.3 billion.

“You can’t pick a naked person’s pockets,” he said.

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