Energy utilities are responsible for the generation and distribution of energy. In Germany, due to the energy transition, these companies have been undergoing huge changes.
Power companies in Germany
The “big four” companies Vattenfall, E.on, RWE and EnBW made up about three quarters of Germany’s production in 2016. However, they have been forced to change their business models due to the energy transition.
E.On has chosen to focus on renewable energy and split its fossil fuel assets into a separate company named Uniper in 2016 (which was then bought by Finnish company Fortum in 2018). Originally, E.on had planned on splitting its nuclear plants into Uniper to avoid paying for cleanup costs but was stopped by German law from doing so. In the end of 2018, E.On made a deal with RWE to acquire their renewable energy business (Innogy SE).
Vattenfall Germany is a branch of Vattenfall Sweden (a state-owned organization). The company sold its brown coal reserves in 2016 to the Czech company EPH following protests from Ende Gelände and increasing pressure in Sweden to go green.
RWE split its renewable energy assents into a new company, Innogy SE, in 2016. Innogy has since become the operator of one of the largest electric transportation networks in Europe. However, RWE has kept its conventional power generation business, including its remaining nuclear plants. It is also the owner of the Hambach Coal Mine and has been locked in a legal battle with activists to begin coal mining in the Hambach Forest.
EnBW (Energie Baden-Württemberg AG) is a German company based in the state of Baden-Württemberg. In 2017, the utility invested in its first offshore wind farm, the project “He Dreiht” which it bid for at an auction and will not be subsidized by the German government. However, the company also owns multiple fossil fuel and coal-powered plants.