Greenpeace Exploring Possibility To Purchase Vattenfall Coal Assets

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Following Vattenfall AB’s decision to put some of its coal operations in Germany up for sale, one would assume that there’d be interest. Who could have guessed that some of that interest would be from Greenpeace, though?

As it stands, Greenpeace is apparently exploring its options to purchase the German lignite operations from the state-owned (Swedish) company, according to the head of Greenpeace in Sweden, Annika Jacobson — with the stated intent being to shut the operations down.

Greenpeace Logo

Altogether, the mines + plants (possessing a capacity of over 8000 megawatts/MW) are valued at €2–3 billion, according to Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg analyst Rodger Rinke. The value was listed as 15.2 billion kroner by the company towards the end of July — owing to dropping power prices.

“There are many ways to finance such an acquisition and we are looking at those,” Jacobson commented. The company “may also look at the possibility of buying strategic parts.”

That’s still quite a lot of money, though. According to a spokesperson for Greenpeace by the name of Juha Aromaa, the organization could possibly fund the purchase via a combination of crowdfunding, donor money, and other finance streams.

“Mostly, we would believe it would be our supporters who would be interested in such an acquisition to save the climate,” he stated.

Bloomberg provides more detail:

The process of finding a buyer will be “open,” Sabine Froning, a spokeswoman for Vattenfall, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. “All serious bids are welcome.”

Greenpeace may want to force a binding statement of the German government on the remaining life of the country’s lignite plants, Guido Hoymann, an analyst at B. Metzler Seel Sohn & Co. KGaA, said by phone from Frankfurt.

“Only when that’s clear, can a value be seriously determined, and then there will possibly be a buyer willing to pay this value,” he said.

The Nordic region’s largest utility is trying to adjust its portfolio of power plants to focus on renewable energy. All its lignite generation and mining assets in Germany will be included in the sale, such as the Boxberg, Jaenschwalde and Schwarze Pumpe power plants and corresponding mines. The company, under pressure from the Swedish government to exit coal-fired power generation in Germany, is facing sliding electricity prices in the Nordic region as well as several billions of kronor of writedowns related to its operations in countries from the Netherlands to Germany.

“Vattenfall and the Swedish government must take their responsibility also for emissions outside Sweden’s borders,” The head at Greenpeace Sweden continued. “If they don’t, we must handle the matter. The brown coal must stay in the ground.”

Interesting case. We’ll keep you posted if it develops in any interesting directions.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

22 thoughts on “Greenpeace Exploring Possibility To Purchase Vattenfall Coal Assets

  • Greenpeace should look for allies. Someone who would profit from those closures and find some Edward Lewis (Richard Gere in Pretty Woman) kind of guys who would be able to sell all other assets coupled with coal power generation.

  • Wow. Would be an impressive statement of putting your money where your mouth is!

  • info: 15.2 B Krona/9.28 K/€ = 1.55 B € .
    I wonder how remediation costs are handled in such a transaction; I assume that Vattenfall and the previous owners were contributing to some sort of fund? These are very big holes in the ground.

  • This is a bad Idea. Bidding up the price of coal assets will only increases their value and help extend the viable life of the industry. Starving the industry for investment is a much smarter way to go.

    • Dumping some billions worth of CO2 certificates will kill many power plants because their owners are considering these certificates as an asset.
      The gangster organisations will turn into penny stocks.

      Government parts (RWE for example is for about 20% owned by the public) will be no more method of blackmailing the lawmakers.

      I’d say EoN and RWE and some others are now feeling the damp in their trousers:)

  • I am sure that Greenpeace has thought this through, but I would have thought that closing one coal mine would just make others more profitable. If they are going to spend a couple of billion dollars, wouldn’t they be better off subidizing solar installations or efficiency measures?

    • I don’t really understand Greenpeace’s thinking. Would it take enough lignite out of play to shut down lignite burners? Force coal use to less carbon emitting hard coal?

      Can someone spell this out a bit better?

      • The lignite assets of Vattenfall include power plants and mines.

        All lignite power in Germany is surplus, not needed for national or international demand.
        It is the cheapest at the moment because mine and power plant belong to the very same company.
        If the mines had to make profits the power plants would become more uneconomical.
        The cheapest power producer makes the market, the only restriction is the grid capacity.

        Without German lignite some Czech power plants would get into trouble as well, their own fuel is running out and more frequently they buy in eastern Germany their fuel. And some cement manufacturers like Swiss’ Holcim might go back to waste derived fuel.

        The entire competitor capacities could profit from the closure of Vattenfall.

        Maybe the one or other plant could be kept running on waste, timber shredding, plastic pellets/briquettes.
        The land occupied by the lignite mines is ideal for fast rotation timber or PV or wind power, the cables are ready to take any power.
        There is possibly still money for conversion land (I think) for PV ,
        anew by law allows the government to take conversion land into the RE- support:

        ” Sonderregelung zur Einspeisevergütung für Solar-Kraftwerksparks auf Konversionsflächen

        über 10 MW werden generell nicht mehr gefördert. Die Bundesregierung
        kann jedoch nach einem neu eingefügten Passus des Gesetzes durch
        Rechtsverordnung unter Zustimmung von Bundesrat und Bundestag eine
        Vergütung für Solarparks auf Konversionsflächen aus wirtschaftlicher,
        verkehrlicher, wohnungsbaulicher oder militärischer Nutzung festlegen –
        dabei müssen energiewirtschaftliche, netztechnische,
        naturschutzfachliche und finanzielle Belange beachtet werden.”

        There would hardly be any protest from nature conservationists and locals if wind power plants were to be erected at the former surface pits.

        Some of the costs of conversion – if not all – could be covered with the sale of CO2 certificates.
        Labour could be for free with employment programs.

    • Your right, ppl are allways talking about not enough funding for renewable r&d.
      1.5 b € for ren r&d would have alot more effect in the long run on the coal industry then buying a couple of mines and plants

      • But if one looks at changes in fuel use in Germany it’s hard coal that is being cut back, not lignite. (below)

        If GreenPeace could buy up the existing lignite sources and stop their use the electricity industry might be forced to move to renewables and hard coal.

        My understanding is that lignite is so low in energy it doesn’t make sense to ship it. It’s only useful when the plant is located right at the source.

        Perhaps buying up existing mines would put those plants out of business and it wouldn’t be possible (regulations or economics) to build new lignite burning plants at another resource site.

        • Here’s a longer term look at hard coal and lignite use in Germany.

          Lignite has been holding somewhat steady over time.

          • Here?

          • There.

            Graph at bottom of comment.

          • Ok, tanx, didnt see it

        • In the first half of 2015 the energy demand increased in Germany but hard coal and lignite usage went down by 3% resp. 2.7% despite somewhere near record low prices for this fuel.

          REs were up by 8%, see AGEB publication

          ” Nr. 3, 2015 (4. August)
          Zuwachs beim Energieverbrauch “

  • The price of electricity in Germany is a complicated construction, but according to my minimal understanding, shutting off these lignite plants would have some interesting effects. The lignite plants are considerably cheaper, and produce considerably more CO2/kW, than the hard coal plants, which are in turn cheaper than gas to run. There is plenty of hard coal generating capacity, so this would (in the short term) replace the lignite, resulting in a reduction in CO2 emissions and an increase in the wholesale electricity rate. This increase would be passed directly to the large high usage export companies, which are exempt from most of the renewable energy surcharges (but nonetheless are always threatening to go somewhere else). For the normal consumer, the increase in the wholesale rate would be balanced by a reduction in the renewables surcharge, since the surcharge covers the difference between the feed-in tariffs assured to the renewable energy producers and the wholesale rate (got that, everyone?). This implies that the main opponents of the Greenpeace tactic would be the large industrial users and the governments of the states which ‘benefit’ from the industrial presence of the lignite mines and power plants. Probably the reality is more complicated (!)

    • Well, more expensive power because of hard coal usage(instead of lignite) would reduce export chances.
      And therefore reduce the current flooding of the power market, about 8 % of the power generated in Germany is being exported because it is cheap.

  • Citigroup – which is arranging the sale of Vattenfall’s lignite business – has accepted Greenpeace as a bidder and invited Greenpeace to deliver a “Statement of Interest”
    until 20th of October.

    (in German):

  • In today’s edition of “Weird News”….

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