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.