Lignite losses

Vattenfall's Coal Fire Sale

Germany's coal mines are attracting little interest from buyers.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    All of Germany’s big utilities firms are likely to lose billions as they try to offload their soon-to-be redundant coal-fired power plants.

  • Facts


    • The Swedish utility firm is Germany’s third biggest energy provider.
    • The company hopes to sell its four coal power stations and open mining operations by the mid-2016.
    • Germany wants to produce 80 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050.
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At the end of the day, coal’s energy footprint is abysmal and its carbon dioxide emissions immense. Big power plants and open mining are outdated in a time when consumers can produce their own electricity, and solar and wind energy have priority on the German national grid. So some countries, including Germany and now Sweden, have decided coal must go, and soon.

Germany was already phasing out fossil-fuel and nuclear power when the Swedish government last year ordered its state-owned power company, Vattenfall, to get out of the coal business as quickly as possible. That included Germany, where Vattenfall is the third-largest energy provider.

But it is only now, nearly a year later, that Vattenfall is beginning the coal sell off. The utility announced it is seeking offers for its four coal power plants and open-mining operations in Germany. It hopes to offload them by the middle of 2016, but that might be difficult.

The original plan was to sell the power stations by the end of this year. But discussions in Germany about a climate tax for electricity produced by coal scared off potential investors. Now that the idea of a tax has been shelved, interested parties are regrouping.

The CEZ Group, an energy conglomerate that is majority owned by the Czech state, is taking an “active part in the bidding process,” a company spokesperson told Handelsblatt.

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