Energy giant RWE plans massive job cuts

Energy giant RWE plans to cut thousands of jobs over the next few years, according to media reports.

Energy giant RWE plans massive job cuts
Photo: DPA

A report in Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post said RWE wanted to cut 8,000 of its global workforce of 72,000. A source at the company confirmed the report to the Reuters news agency.

“There will be job cuts,” the spokesman told Reuters, without giving a specific number. He said the company was working with the trade unions to implement the job cuts.

In August RWE had announced that it planned to cut costs by €1.5 billion next year in response to Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022. The company plans to divest assets worth €11 billion by the end of 2013.

RWE will close its Biblis nuclear power station and also introduce less labour-intensive new coal-fired plants. It will also restructure its operations in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe.

The company’s supervisory board is meeting on December 12 to discuss the mid-term outlook for 2012 to 2014, including staff numbers.

RWE has already said there would not be any forced lay-offs until at least the end of 2012.

Another German energy giant E.ON has already said it plans to cut 11,000 of its global staff of 80,000. According to unions, 6,500 of those job cuts will likely be in Germany.

The Local/smd

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Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year.