Energy Transition

Uniper Boss: Coal Has a Future

Uniper CEO Klaus Schaefer source Denis Ignatov Photography for Handelsblatt
Klaus Schäfer of Uniper.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Uniper has to prove to investors that its coal and gas-powered electricity plants have a future as the country moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • E.ON, established in 2000, has spun off Uniper to operate the company’s fossil-fuel and hydro power plants.
    • The separation, which is still subject to shareholder approval, is a reaction to Germany’s transition to renewable energy sources.
    • Germany in 2011 announced plans to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and draw at least 80 percent of energy from renewables by 2050.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Klaus Schäfer took office as chief executive of the new German fossil-fuel utility, Uniper, at the beginning of this month – just as politicians and think tanks discussed the possibility of moth-balling coal power plants. Officially still part of Germany’s largest energy firm E.ON, Uniper’s operations have been separated and it shares are scheduled to list on the stock exchange by the end of this year.

Mr. Schäfer, who climbed the ranks at E.ON and was its chief financial officer until last month, holds office in E.ON’s former headquarters on the banks of the Rhine River in Düsseldorf.

He faces the daunting task of leading Uniper, whose separation from E.ON is still subject to shareholder approval in June, through Germany’s transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

Under the government’s Energiewende, or energy transformation program, Germany in 2011 announced plans to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and draw at least 80 percent of energy from renewables by 2050. The decision was taken by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, as a reaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

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