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Fig. 1. Headquarters of the STEAG Group in Essen. Photo: STEAG

STEAG heads for strong growth

At the full works council and delegates’ conference of the STEAG Group (Figure 1), Essen/Germany, Andreas Reichel, Chairman of the Management Board and Labor Director, made it clear that the forthcoming sale of the energy group to the Spanish infrastructure investor Asterion Industrial Partners means more scope for STEAG in shaping the energy and heat transition.

Speaking to the participants at the full works council and delegates’ conference at the Zollverein industrial heritage site in Essen, Reichel explained the future direction of the energy group: “The sale of STEAG GmbH together with its two subsidiaries Iqony and STEAG Power to Asterion, which is expected to be finally closed in December 2023, is a very good signal for the around 5,300 employees and for the energy sector in Germany as a whole. Together with our future owner, we now have the potential to invest significantly in expanding our holistic solutions for decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization of the energy supply.”

At the end of August 2023, Asterion had announced its intention to invest around 1 bn € in the STEAG Group’s green growth business, which is bundled under the umbrella of the new subsidiary Iqony, once the takeover has been completed. “Our lighthouse projects include, e.g., the “HydrOxy Hub” project at the Duisburg-Walsum power plant site, where we intend to produce large quantities of green hydrogen in an electrolyzer with a capacity of up to 520 MW,” says Reichel.

Likewise, projects for the construction of several new gas-fired power plants with hydrogen capability are among the future investment priorities. “For that, however, we will need an appropriate political framework, faster approval procedures and firm legislation as rapidly as possible,” Reichel appealed. This applies all the more, he said, as the German government itself has set a target of building new gas-fired power plants with a generation capacity of up to 25 GW by 2030. “If we want to achieve this in that short time, we must have clarity quickly,” Reichel added.

Gerhard Grabmeier, Chairman of STEAG’s General Works Council, made it clear in his speech that a new growth phase would begin for STEAG with Asterion as the owner: “Asterion wants to invest more in the green technologies of the future. This will ensure good and reliable employment prospects in the company and increase the attractiveness of the Group as an employer. The team at Iqony has what it takes to play a key role in shaping the energy transition in Germany and Europe.”

In addition to growth in sustainable future fields, STEAG also stands for security of supply as provided by the large power plants of the Group subsidiary STEAG Power. “The past winter in particular, when no more Russian gas flowed through the pipelines to Western Europe, has shown that you can rely on the people at STEAG!” commends Michael Vassiliadis, Chairman of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IGBCE) and member of the Supervisory Board of STEAG.

STEAG Power returned 2.5 GW of generation capacity to the market in November 2023, making a decisive contribution to significantly reducing natural gas consumption in power generation. “What is needed now for the future is reliability from politicians. We need more planning certainty and a reliable power plant strategy from the German government. There needs to be security for the electricity market and a new market design in which power plant operators also receive money for keeping power generation capacities permanently available – even when they are not currently connected to the grid,” Vassiliadis demands. However, STEAG remains committed to its goal of phasing out coal-fired power generation in Germany by mid-2026. (STEAG/Si.)