Stinnes’ strategy was to generate electricity at power plants that were as large as possible and had excellent access to transport, providing low-cost electricity to a high-performance grid that included factories and households within the largest possible supply region, and this strategy long remained the basis for RWE’s economic success. When the Goldenbergwerk power plant started converting lignite to electricity in 1914, it was the logical next stage in the strategy. RWE quickly transferred the focus of its generation activities to low-cost Rhenish lignite, commencing lignite mining in the 1920s.
From a local electricity company to an international power provider – this is a brief summary of the 120-year history of RWE. It all started back in April 1898 with the founding of the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk – or RWE for short – which supplied the city of Essen with electricity from 1900 onwards. The new company really got going in 1902, when Hugo Stinnes acquired the majority stake. With RWE, the industrialist from Mülheim started implementing his vision of a large-scale, efficient (and thus low-cost) electricity supply.