Greenpeace makes move on Vattenfall German coal assets

Greenpeace appears to be backing up its rhetoric by making a formal bid for Vattenfall’s coal assets in Germany.

The company applied on Tuesday to take over the German coal operations of Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, pledging to close them down to protect the climate.

The environmental group offered no money to the state-owned company, arguing that the lignite mines and coal-fired power plants in eastern Germany are in fact a liability. Based on its calculations of the difference between what the remaining lignite reserves in the region of Lusatia are worth and what it will cost to pull down the power station and convert the land back to its natural state, Greenpeace is offering a “negative price.”

Critics say the move is nothing but a publicity stunt, however the company stated, “The brown coal must stay in the ground,” adding it would submit on the same day a formal statement of interest to Citigroup, which is handling the sale.

Greenpeace said it hoped to transfer the operations into a charitable foundation, paid for by Vattenfall and the German and Swedish governments, in order to phase them out by 2030.

“We don’t want to pay any money for it, it’s worth nothing,” said the head of Greenpeace Energy, Nils Mueller.

The group claimed that the net value of the business until 2030 would be 500 million euros — but that the bottom line goes deep-red, to around two billion euros, once social and environmental costs are factored in.
Schwarze Pumpe
These included decommissioning the plants and greening the open-cast mines, aside from the impact of pollution on public health and the climate.

The Vattenfall sites include the power plants Jaenschwalde and Schwarze Pumpe in eastern Brandenburg state and Boxberg and part of Lippendorf in Saxony.

Vattenfall has written down their value, given falling wholesale power prices as a result of Germany’s transition toward renewable energy.

Two others are reportedly in the running to buy the operations, the Czech energy groups CEZ and EPH.

Vattenfall declined to comment on the Greenpeace bid. “Every company sale is a confidential process,” it told dpa via Twitter.

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