Germany’s top utility E.ON announced details of its planned split into two companies, one focused on renewables, power grids and energy services and the other on conventional power. The conventional spin-off with power plants, oil and gas activities, as well as the energy trading business, will be called “Uniper” and will be headed by company veteran and current E.ON finance chief Klaus Schaefer. The new company will start operations on Jan 1, 2016 and will be based in Düsseldorf. The remaining company, E.ON, will move its headquarters from Düsseldorf to Essen, where major peer RWE is based. E.ON will continue to be headed by current chief executive Johannes Teyssen. E.ON had announced late last year to split itself in two, mainly in response to the growing importance of renewables.
Read the press release here.
Read a Reuters article in English here.
Read a Bloomberg article in English here.
See CLEW's dossier about the troubles of the big utilities here.
Vattenfall cuts 1,000 jobs after profit drop
Swedish state utility Vattenfall is to cut 1,000 jobs or three percent of its workforce after lower production volumes and falling electricity prices weighed on first quarter earnings, the company said in a press release. Vattenfall is shifting its portfolio towards renewable power generation and reiterated the sale of brown coal operations in Germany continues, without giving further details. The Nordic region’s biggest utility said adjusted operating profit fell to 7.7 billion Swedish crowns ($892 million) from 9.1 billion a year ago.
Find a Reuters report on the results here.
"Signpost for Vattenfall"
A study by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), commissioned by Greenpeace, finds that large utility Vattenfall could manage a transformation from lignite-based power generation to a business based on renewables within 15 years in the German coal mining region Lusatia. If this step-by-step phase-out of brown coal were followed through, it would enable Germany, the state of Brandenburg and Vattenfall to achieve their respective greenhouse gas reduction targets. 4,100 jobs would be lost in Lusatia’s brown coal operations, the researchers calculated. New jobs in the renewables sector would replace these jobs, the IÖW writes. “A brown coal phase-out by 2030 in Lusatia would save some 80 billion euros in environmental costs,” IÖW author Julika Weiß says in a Greenpeace article.
Vattenfall's CEO recently reiterated in an op-ed in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri that Vattenfall will sell the lignite operations. Magnus Hall wrote the company will act on a commercial basis, and said holding onto a business in order to close it down was not commercially viable. He says Germany’s energy mix is an issue for Germany and its own policy makers and not for Swedish politicians or Vattenfall.
Download the study “Vattenfalls Chance” in German here.
Proposal to help companies adjust consumption more flexibly to power prices
Think-tank Agora Energiewende has published an “Action Plan Load Management”, designed to make companies more flexible in their power consumption. Under current electricity market rules, price signals from the wholesale market don't feed immediately through to consumers, which is why they don’t reduce consumption at times of very high power prices or increase it at times of cheap electricity. Controlling power consumption, so called load management, can also help to integrate fluctuating renewable sources like wind and solar energy into the system, Agora Energiewende writes. The think-tank, who commissioned the study with consultancy Connect Energy Economics, suggests several changes to power market regulation, including reduced grid fees when industrial consumers adapt their demand in times of very high or low power prices and obliging power suppliers to gear their supply more closely to their customers' demand.
Download the study in German here.