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Energy firms in Germany are spinning off their coal operations to appease ESG pressures from banks and investors, with several operators already separating the dirty coal business from renewable power generation.
However, the spin-offs could only raise emissions if the owners of the coal assets continue to operate them, analysts tell Bloomberg.
Just last week, Czech firm EPH, which has coal operations in Germany, said it would transfer its lignite operations in Germany into a new sister company, EP Energy Transition, as part of a decarbonization plan.
The new company “will have a clearly defined transition strategy and plans to invest around €10 billion into the development of renewable energy sources, batteries and highly-efficient hydrogen-ready power plants,” EPH said.
“As a result, EPH will be almost free from all of its current coal assets by 2025 and will completely abandon coal as a power generation source by 2030,” the firm said.
EPH aims to play a leading role in the transition to a hydrogen future, it noted.
Germany energy giant RWE, the biggest coal asset operator in the country, pledged last autumn to phase out coal by 2030, bringing forward the lignite phase-out by eight years under an agreement with the government. At the same time, RWE is heavily investing billions of euros to accelerate the energy transition.
In another example of image clean-up, the STEAG Group aims to phase out its coal business. Since the beginning of the year, the STEAG Group has been divided into two separately operating companies, renewables unit Iqony GmbH and STEAG Power GmbH, which operates the coal assets.
Amid the increasing pressure from banks and investors on coal asset operators to separate those assets, “Emissions can of course also rise after such a transaction if the new owners continue to operate power plants,” Hanns Koenig, Managing Director Central Europe at Aurora Energy Research, told Bloomberg.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.