Reflecting a new strategic focus after taking over the renewables generation of rival E.ON, RWE from its fiscal year 2020 on will place renewables at the core of its results reporting, but the German utility still expects major profits from its coal and nuclear activities.
RWE said its new core business segments are offshore wind, onshore wind/solar, hydro/biomass/gas, and supply & trading.
The utility claims these are merely “supplemented” by a fifth segment of coal/nuclear, but a closer look at expected earnings from the fifth column reveals that it remains one of the company’s most profitably units. Germany is phasing out nuclear power by the end of 2022 and coal and lignite by 2035-2038.
To improve comparability, RWE’s profit forecasts refer to pro forma results for 2019. They show the development of business including the operations acquired from E.ON for the full year.
On that basis, the group’s power generation from coal, lignite and nuclear would have reached adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of €340m ($382m) last year, a figure RWE expects to rise to €500-600m this year.
The new core business area onshore wind/solar by comparison last year reached pro forma earnings of €442m, which are also seen rising to an Ebitda of €500-600m in 2020, thanks to the addition of new capacities.
RWE’s new core area of supply & trading is expected to reach an adjusted Ebitda of €250m this year, while the hydro/biomass/gas segment is expected to achieve and Ebitda of €550-650m in 2020, down from a pro forma €671m in 2019.
The company expects offshore wind to be its strongest unit, reaching an adjusted Ebitda of €0.9-1.1bn in fiscal 2020, up from a pro forma adjusted Ebitda of €961m in 2019.
RWE after incorporating E.ON’s assets, and once it also receives back the renewable generation fleet of its former unit Innogy (expected later this year), will become the world’s second largest operator of offshore wind in the world.
RWE chief executive Rolf Martin Schmitz during a heated debate on Germany’s exit from coal and lignite during the past two years repeatedly had tried to push the end date for coal as far in the future as possible. At the same time, it strong-armed the government in Berlin to pay his company billions in compensation for the closure of fossil power plants that have been written off years ago.
Following this logic, RWE in today’s earnings reporting claimed it will bear the main burden of Germany's lignite phase-out, which would stretch its limits.
Nevertheless - and despite curtailments resulting from the halt of the clearance of the Hambach Forest near Cologne - adjusted Ebitda in RWE’s lignite and nuclear segment (before the reshuffling of core areas to include E.ON assets) rose to €374m in 2019, up from €356m a year earlier.
The company’s overall Ebitda rose to €2.1bn in 2019, up from €1.5bn in 2018, while adjusted net income more than doubled in 2019 to €1.2bn from €591m a year earlier.
“Fiscal 2019 was an outstanding year, which saw us launch the new RWE. As one of the world’s leading producers of electricity from renewables, we have an ambitious goal: we want to be carbon neutral by 2040,” Schmitz said.
2040 is two years after the latest date for Germany’s unambitious coal exit. Schmitz in an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel in January signalled he may leave his post next year amid the utility's increasing focus on green energy.