Uniper urgently requests structural proposals from the French government on the phase out of coal

  • End of coal-fired power production by end of 2021 jeopardizes Uniper activities in France as a whole
  • Statements by French government on coal exit as part of the Energy plan (PPE) are inadequate

Uniper is requesting that the French government officially clarify its timetable for phasing out coal and provide specific proposals for a structural resolution of the issue with the affected companies. The statements released yesterday by the government as part of the multi-year energy planning process (Programmation pluriannuelle de l’énergie“; PPE) fall far short of providing a sound basis for business decisions. The early closure of all remaining coal-fired power plants in France, to be completed no later than the end of 2021, as reiterated in the PPE, instead jeopardizes existing supply obligations, facilities and several hundreds of jobs at Uniper alone. Moreover, it will drive one of the last remaining private, non-French competitors to the state-owned Electricité de France (EdF) out of the market.

Owing to the announcement by the French government that it plans on closing all coal-fired power plants in the country by the end of 2021, Uniper has for the last several months submitted its business activities in France to a strategic review. Since the summer break, there have been numerous protests against the French government as well as strikes at company sites, which have adversely affected power production.

Uniper board member and COO Eckhardt Rümmler: "Despite France’s withdrawal from coal-fired power generation, we have yet to be presented with a binding legal framework or a specific proposal for a structural solution for the industry as a whole. The closure of our coal-fired plants in Lorraine and in Provence, long before the end of their technically feasible lifespans, would shut down half our operations in France at one fell swoop. We are unable to economically compensate for this through our remaining activities in renewables, natural gas and sales. We have been asking for months now that the government meet its responsibilities by offering a path forward for our operations in France and more importantly for our employees at the various sites there - this has so far not been forthcoming, including within the context of the PPE. Given the lack of predictability resulting from this situation, we must therefore continue to review all business options. There is little time remaining for finding a solution through consensus; our employees urgently need to know where things stand within a matter of weeks."

In addition to Uniper, only the Electricité de France (EdF), the majority state-owned energy producer that operates the bulk of French nuclear power plants, is affected by the early withdrawal from coal-fired power generation in France. In addition, Uniper is one of the last remaining foreign, privately-held competitors in the French energy market. Uniper is involved in the generation of electricity and in sales through its business unit Uniper France. The Company employs some 500 people and has a plant output capacity of nearly 2300 megawatts (MW), 1200 MW of which is generated by coal.

The two black-coal plants, each of which produces roughly 600 MW, are located in Saint-Avold (Lorraine) and in Gardanne (Provence). Beyond that, Uniper’s portfolio in France also comprises two gas-fired power plants, each generating around 400 MW (at the Saint-Avold location) as well as wind and solar facilities with a combined output of 100 MW. Just this year in Gardanne near Marseille, Uniper brought the 150 MW biomass plant “Provence 4 Biomass“ onto the grid. Uniper supplies electricity and gas products to industrial and commercial customers and provides energy-related services in this segment.

About Uniper

Uniper is a leading international energy company with operations in more than 40 countries and around 12,000 employees. Uniper’s business is to provide a reliable supply of energy and related services. Its main operations include power generation in Europe and Russia and global energy trading. Its headquarters are in Düsseldorf, Germany.

This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Uniper SE Management and other information currently available to Uniper. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. Uniper SE does not intend, and does not assume any liability whatsoever, to update these forward-looking statements or to modify them to conform with future events or developments.