Embattled E.ON and RWE turn to the government and the courts for help
Jun 7th 2014, BERLIN - RECENT years have brought little but bad news for Germany’s power generators. Having overinvested in gas- and coal-fired plants before the financial crisis, the two largest, E.ON and RWE, ended up with excess capacity in the ensuing downturn—just as lavish subsidies to wind- and solar-power producers were bringing a host of new competitors to the market. After the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, the German government decided that all nuclear plants in the country must close by 2022, bringing forward the huge costs of decommissioning them. To cap it all, ever more industrial consumers of electricity have gone “off the grid”, generating their own power. Shares in the two power giants have fallen by almost half in the past five years, whereas Germany’s DAX stockmarket index has almost doubled in that time (see chart).