Author Archive: Gerard Wynn

Energy Finance Consultant Gerard Wynn is a U.K.-based 10-year veteran of energy and economics reporting at the Thomson Reuters News Agency and has authored numerous papers on energy issues ranging from solar power in Great Britain to coal-burning in China and India. He blogs at

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IEEFA Europe: Can Coal Power Hang On?

IEEFA Europe: Can Coal Power Hang On?

Investors May Not Be Eager to Absorb More Losses Like Those Seen in Recent Dutch Build-Outs

Investment in new coal-fired power plants appears off the agenda in Western Europe. Witness the astonishing write-down of brand-new assets in the Netherlands, where European utility giants RWE, Uniper, and Engie have drastically reduced their valuations of plants barely a year old (read the report we published this morning, “The Dutch Coal Mistake,” which concludes […]

November 30, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Europe: As Coal Wanes, German Utility Giant Uniper Looks to Regulated Markets

Is It Better to Subsidize Old Plants or Invest in the New Energy Economy?

Western European power prices have surged lately, partly on the back of a review of French nuclear plants. But coal-fired power plants have failed to capitalize on the trend, given price rises also for seaborne coal. As the Chief Executive of Uniper, Klaus Schäfer, told analysts this week, following the company’s Q3 earnings report: “A […]

November 23, 2016 Read More →
IEEFA Europe: As Global Climate Pact Takes Force of Law, a Bleak Outlook for Coal-Fired Power

IEEFA Europe: As Global Climate Pact Takes Force of Law, a Bleak Outlook for Coal-Fired Power

Paris Agreement Has Made Recovery of the Traditional Electric Generation Sources Unlikeley

What happened in Morocco last week underlines the extreme and now persistent risks to the economics of coal-fired power plants across Europe and further afield, raising the prospect of further write-downs by utilities. Some 191 countries signed the Paris Agreement in December, but a certain threshold had to ratify before it entered into force. That […]

November 7, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Europe: Seeds of an Industrial Alternative to Germany’s Regional Lignite Economies

In the Shadow of a Fading Industry, a Newer One Grows

In the same week that Germany’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, ruled out a coal phase-out timeline until alternatives opportunities are in place for affected communities, Daimler broke ground on a major new electric vehicle battery factory 30 kilometers from the 1,500-megawatt Schwarze Pumpe power plant in the lignite mining heartland of Lausitz. Gabriel on Tuesday […]

October 27, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Europe: Risks Emerge as U.K. Turns Increasingly to Natural Gas-Fired Generation

Questions: Will the Ongoing Embrace of Fossil Fuels Hamper the Development of Wind and Solar? Can Goals for Climate-Change Commitments Still Be Met?

Britain appears to be turning more and more to natural gas as its coal-fired electricity generation plummets. A tell-tale sign is in the country’s course to set a record increase in gas-fired generation this year. The U.K. transmission system operator, the National Grid, indicated this past Friday that the country’s supply security would be stable […]

October 17, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Germany: Climate Policy Probably Spells the End of Lignite

Czech Buyers of Former Vattenfall Holdings Are Banking on a Bailout

Coal is the highest carbon-emitting source of electricity, and lignite the highest carbon-emitting form of coal. Lignite is therefore front and center among risks facing investors from global efforts to slow climate change. Nowhere is this more true than in Germany, where lignite is still the single biggest source of power generation, accounting for one quarter […]

October 4, 2016 Read More →
IEEFA Europe: Blueprint for a Lignite Phase-Out in Germany

IEEFA Europe: Blueprint for a Lignite Phase-Out in Germany

Foundation-Based Approach to Closure and Clean-Up; New Czech Owners of Vattenfall Assets in Lausitz Can Afford to Foot the Bill; a Timeline That Helps Local Communities Prepare for Transition

The recent “sale” by the Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall of its German lignite assets throws a harsh light on a dark paradox: the continued use of the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel by a country with some of the most ambitious targets to tackle climate change. The deal transfers a cluster of lignite mines and their […]

September 22, 2016 Read More →

IEEFA Europe: New Blueprints by Energy Giants RWE and E.ON Face Market Test

Strategies That Raise Questions About the Future of Two Legacy Companies 

In reporting annual first-half results this week, Europe’s two biggest utilities offered some hints as strategies in which they have created new units to separate newer energy assets from older ones. At both E.ON and RWE, the newest energy units are built around renewable power, grid networks and retail sales, separate from fossil fuel energy […]

August 12, 2016 Read More →
IEEFA Europe: Behind Vattenfall’s Sell-Off of German Lignite Assets, a Subsidy Play by the Buyers

IEEFA Europe: Behind Vattenfall’s Sell-Off of German Lignite Assets, a Subsidy Play by the Buyers

An Acquisition Spree for Regulated Fossil-Fuel Assets That Are Supported by Guaranteed Payments

As the Swedish electric utility Vattenfall prepares to off-load its German lignite business to Czech investors, its second-quarter results on Thursday showed how the company—and lignite in particular—is suffering from lower Central European power prices. Vattenfall took the unusual step of breaking out separate results for its lignite business, ahead of its transfer of those […]

July 22, 2016 Read More →
IEEFA Europe: Weak Carbon Prices Are Fracturing EU Energy Policy. Here’s a Remedy.

IEEFA Europe: Weak Carbon Prices Are Fracturing EU Energy Policy. Here’s a Remedy.

Trend Toward Nationalization Thwarts Modernization of Electricity Markets and Coherent Action on Climate Change; Current Emissions-Trading Review Offers an Opportunity to Update Key Directive

Weakness in carbon prices—what industries are willing to pay for the right to pollute—are fracturing energy policy in Europe and hardening an East-West divide that puts regional unity and progress at risk. The gist of the rift can be distilled in the current state of the European Union emissions trading scheme, which was supposed to […]

July 18, 2016 Read More →