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French Utility Reports $13Billion Loss over Solar, Wind Subsidies

By James Burgess | Thu, 06 March 2014 22:27 | 0

Amid crippling European declines in gas storage and thermal energy production, France’s GDF Suez is reporting a net loss of over $13 billion for 2013 and may move to cut dividends.  

The French energy giant took a $20 billion write down last year after slumping prices reduced the value of its gas storage and gas power plants in Europe, but the company’s stocks still managed a 6% rise.

According to Reuters, GDF Suez took a 9.1 billion euro impairment on assets and a 5.8 billion impairment on goodwill. Its net loss for 2013 of 9.74 billion euros (over $13 billion) compares to a 1.54 billion euro profit the previous year.

"We consider the deterioration of the gas storage and thermal energy production in Europe is deep and long-lasting," Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet told media.

Related Article: Italy’s Eni Challenges European Oil-Linked Gas Prices

Wind and solar energy producers in Europe have benefitted from priority access to the electricity grid and prices guaranteed well above the market and despite fluctuations in demand. The end result is that higher taxes and higher prices for conventional energy foot the bill for solar and wind benefits.

This has crippled the large-scale power-generation industry for gas and thermal.

Europe has lost some 50,000 megawatts of gas-fired power-generation capacity over the past five to six years due to rising prices, lessening demand and the rise—via subsidy mechanisms—of wind and solar power.

By the close of 2013, GDF Suez had given up 10 gigawatts of power capacity, with more now under consideration for closure.

Other large utilities are facing a similar crisis. E.ON, Germany’s largest utility, has been forced to write down its assets in recent years. Another German utility, RWE, also said recently that it would write down $4.5 billion on power generation assets across Europe.  

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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