BERLIN (Reuters) - German utility Uniper aims to cut its carbon emissions significantly over coming years, its chief executive said, adding this would include replacing old coal-fired capacity with its new state-of-the-art Datteln 4 plant.
“Datteln is part of our strategy to decarbonise our production,” Chief Executive Andreas Schierenbeck told Reuters in an interview, adding the group had already slashed its CO2 emissions by more than 60% since 2005.
“We want to cut it again significantly, by up to 40%,” said Schierenbeck, who previously led the elevator division of Thyssenkrupp.
In 2018, Uniper’s CO2 emissions stood at 59.5 million metric tonnes, down 6% from 2017. Larger peer RWE, Europe’s largest polluter, had CO2 emissions of 118 million metric tonnes in 2018.
Datteln 4, which has so far cost 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), will enter service in mid-2020 and is the last new coal-fired power plant to enter service in Germany, which has decided to phase out the fossil-fuel by no later than 2038.
It is Germany’s most modern coal-fired power plant and can be ramped up and down depending on the level of renewables in the country’s power grid.
“We will take older coal-fired power plants off the grid in in return for Datteln 4. Our goal is that our overall carbon emissions output will be significantly lower as a result,” Schierenbeck said.
Datteln, which employs about 100 staff, is expected to generate an annual operating profit of at least 100 million euros, Schierenbeck said. Uniper’s older German coal-fired power plants have 850 employees.
There has been much criticism by environmentalists over the proposed Datteln 4 start as they argue it contradicts Germany’s CO2 cutting pathway.
Uniper, in which Finland’s Fortum owns a 49.99% stake, will convert its coal-fired power plants to gas where possible, Schierenbeck said, adding that in order to do that the group needed a clear regulatory framework and investment security.