Two Dutch coal plants have taken a hit to their book value for the second time in two years, in a warning sign for would-be coal investors.
The Maasvlakte 3 plant was worth €700m at the end of 2016, owner Uniper’s annual report showed, less than half its €1.5bn value at the beginning of the year – its first full year of operations. Its construction cost was €1.7bn.
Engie also wrote €168m off its Netherlands conventional power generation assets, of which its Maasvlakte coal plant is the most substantial.
Opened in 2015, the plants are among the most efficient in Europe, but have been caught out by market and political shifts. Falling EU electricity demand, surging renewable generation and a court order for the Netherlands to make deeper carbon cuts have undermined their profitability.
Energy consultant Gerard Wynn, who picked out the data buried in the financial results, said they cast “new doubt on the wisdom of planned new coal power plants by utilities in Poland, the Western Balkans and Germany”.
Eurelectric, the industry body for EU power generators, acknowledged the new market reality in a statement last week. Its members, with the exception of those in Poland and Greece, did not intend to invest in new coal plants after 2020, it said.
Uniper is continuing to build a coal power station in Datteln, Germany, however. It will generate supply district heating as well as power and may benefit from a mooted scheme to pay conventional generators for being available to back up renewables.