„In my time as Chairman of the Executive Board, STEAG’s development was already marked by major changes that had to be mastered in order to keep STEAG on a successful course: In Western Germany, no new large-scale power plants were needed in the foreseeable future, and our opportunities were limited in the former East German states. The Leuna chemicals plant was the only place where we were able to win a contract. So we put our cost structures to the test. Our yardstick was the electricity generation cost structures of the best coal-fired power plant operators in international competition. The analysis revealed a cost gap of 30 percent, which had to be closed. I still remember well the concerns of employees and their worries about their jobs, but they all pulled together and moved along – and succeeded. We also decided to enter new markets: We built power plants in Colombia, Turkey and the Philippines, creating new and, above all, sustainable sources of income. Incidentally, the present head of STEAG, Joachim Rumstadt, made the complicated contracts for it watertight. Today I wonder what would have become of STEAG if we hadn’t had the courage to break into an unfamiliar foreign market. When the next change was announced in 2004 – RAG as the majority shareholder had decided to integrate the energy activities of RAG Saarberg into STEAG – I took the opportunity, in consultation with the Supervisory Board, to retire. I had an exciting time at STEAG, and I still look back with gratitude today.“
Dr. Jochen Melchior
Chairman of the Executive Board of STEAG AG from 1995 to 2004
1990s and 2000s – National and international growth
In the 1990s, STEAG finally emancipated itself from its decades-long role as a supplier of industrial electricity and district heating in the Ruhr area. After the reunification of Germany, STEAG in Saxony-Anhalt took over Industriekraftwerk Nord from Leuna-Werke and leased it to the newly founded LEUNA-STEAG Energiegesellschaft mbH. With the foundation of STEAG Energieanlagen Sachsen Anhalt GmbH (SESA), STEAG launched its first new build project in eastern Germany at the same location. SESA also functioned as the owner of the new combined cycle gas and steam turbine power plant in Leuna. A few years later, this project was followed by a power plant to supply electricity and heat to the large-scale refinery which was then being constructed. In 1998, the takeover of Saarbergwerke AG by Ruhrkohle AG (RAG) brought power plant activities from the Saarland into the group. This integration was completed – following the complete takeover of STEAG by RAG – by the foundation of Saar Energie AG in October 2004. And STEAG also began to expand its commitments internationally: In 1999, the Termopaipa IV power plant, which was planned, financed and built by STEAG, went on line in Colombia. In 2000, construction work began on the Iskenderun power plant in southern Turkey, which commenced generating electricity in 2004. In 2006, finally, a power plant went on line in Mindanao (Philippines). The realignment of RAG, which began in 2003, and the focus on the Chemicals, Energy and Real Estate business areas again brought about changes for STEAG. At the beginning of 2005, all of RAG’s activities in the areas of coal trading, power plant construction and operation, waste disposal, and gas and district heating supply were pooled at STEAG. The energy company had thus become one of the mainstays of the RAG Group. On September 12, 2007, RAG Beteiligungs AG became Evonik Industries AG with the three business units Chemicals, Energy and Real Estate. At the same time, RAG Aktiengesellschaft emerged as an independent company from the former RAG Group. Since then, both companies have been owned by the RAG Foundation. In 2008, Evonik Industries began to position itself as a special chemicals group – energy and real estate activities were no longer regarded as core businesses.
„One major challenge was the decision to build the new Walsum 10 unit because it was the first time a new power plant was to be constructed in Germany after many years. That is why it was important for Evonik and its Chairman, Dr. Müller, to support our project in the long term and for the cooperation with EnBW and our Austrian partner EVN to function so well. Even back then, the situation in Germany was anything but ideal for conventional energy, which is why we decided not to build a new unit in Lünen, for example. The takeover of the power plants in the Saarland was also challenging. The aim was to avoid duplicate structures and become a single company, but of course we had to tread very carefully. I was also proud of our commitment abroad: The Mindanao power plant was completed in my time, and the performance of our engineers in India was impressive. At STEAG, I experienced what living in a social partnership means. The great commitment of the power plant operators, the willingness of the employees to go abroad – all that was by no means a matter of course. Once, for example, when we had planned a project in Russia but didn't have enough engineers available, we asked our retired staff – and everyone, really everyone, was ready to take part. That's what makes STEAG special.“
Dr. Alfred Tacke
Chairman of the Executive Board of STEAG AG from 2004 to 2006, and Chairman of the Board of Management of Evonik Steag GmbH from 2007 to 2008. Also a member of the Executive Board of RAG Beteiligungs AG (later Evonik Industries AG) from 2006 to 2008.
2010 to the present day – Departures and innovation
The new decade brought a profound change in STEAG’s ownership structure: In March 2011, a consortium of seven Ruhr area municipal utilities acquired 51 percent of Evonik Steag GmbH from Evonik Industries AG, and the former company shortly afterwards changed its name to STEAG GmbH. Since 2014, STEAG has been wholly owned by the municipal utilities of Bochum, Dinslaken, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen and Oberhausen. Today, more than 6,000 people all over the world work for STEAG, and the former coal-fired power plant company now stands for many energy sources – renewable and fossil – with comprehensive know-how in power generation and the energy industry. In 2010, for example, the first STEAG wind turbines in Germany were installed on the Oberscholven mining heap in Gelsenkirchen. In 2013, STEAG commissioned the Walsum 10 power plant unit in Duisburg with a total output of 793 megawatts – with an efficiency of more than 45 percent, it is one of the world's most modern hard coal fired power plants. In 2015, STEAG set another milestone with the foundation of the Rhine-Ruhr district heating trunk line: The large-scale project, which is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the EU to the tune of up to 100 million euros, is to run 25 kilometers across the Ruhr area and save around 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Equally innovative is the large- scale battery project presented by STEAG in 2016: Six battery systems with a lithium-ion based capacity of 90 MW were put into operation in North Rhine-Westphalia and the Saarland and contribute with their primary control power to stabilizing the electricity grid. However, the politically driven rapid expansion of energy from renewables and the resulting low electricity prices on the exchanges are forcing STEAG to take drastic steps. In March 2017, the Voerde power plant, once Germany’s largest coal-fired power plant with a capacity of 2234 megawatts, was shut down. But there is also good news in the field of conventional generation: In October 2017, STEAG announced plans for the construction of a new gas-fired power plant in Herne, which will produce both electricity and heat through cogeneration.
„I have been with STEAG for 20 years now and have seen how we and our employees have mastered even the most difficult situations: demanding orders under time pressure, technically tricky tasks that have demanded all their know-how from our engineers or sad events such as the recent closure of the Voerde power plant site. And it is precisely now that the turmoil on the German energy market is demanding a great deal of us. STEAG has to reinvent itself – once again – in part. However, this is one of the very characteristics of our company. When the conditions have changed, STEAG has also changed and has always been good at helping to shape the conditions which result. Coming from coal- fired power generation, STEAG today stands for many energy sources – renewable and fossil fuels. We have continuously expanded our service and production base. I am sure that we will continue to be successful in doing so. In addition to our high level of expertise, we also have one thing above all else: trust, respect for each other and, last but not least, a sense of community. This is what this company and its employees are all about: not forgetting their roots, but always being able to set new goals. Our constant is change.“
Member of the Management Board of Evonik Steag GmbH from 2007 to 2009. Chairman of the Board of Management of Evonik Steag GmbH (renamed STEAG GmbH in 2011) since 2009. Also a member of the Supervisory Board of RAG Aktiengesellschaft from 2009 to 2014.