Uniper wants the French government to come clear on its timetable for phasing out coal in the country and also to work on providing a structural resolution for affected companies like it which are into coal-based power generation.
Under a multi-year energy planning process, called Programmation pluriannuelle de l’énergie (PPE), the French government has called for closure of all the remaining coal-fired power plants in the country, the latest by the end of 2021.
The German energy supply company warns that such early closure of the power plants will threaten existing supply obligations, facilities and put several hundreds of jobs at the company at risk.
Further, it said that the lack of clarity will lead to the exit of the last remaining private foreign competitor of the state-owned Electricité de France (EdF) from the French market.
Uniper said that it has been seeking a strategic review of its business operations in France following the government’s announcement to close all the remaining coal-fired power plants by the end of 2021. The company claimed that its power production has been impacted adversely due to various protests against the government and also at its sites due to the coal phase-out decision.
Currently, the German firm, which has around 500 employees in France, operates two black-coal plants in the country with a combined capacity of around 1,200MW.
Uniper board member and COO Eckhardt Rümmler said: “Despite France’s withdrawal from coal-fired power generation, we have yet to be presented with a binding legal framework or a specific proposal for a structural solution for the industry as a whole.
“The closure of our coal-fired plants in Lorraine and in Provence, long before the end of their technically feasible lifespans, would shut down half our operations in France at one fell swoop.”
Rümmler added that the company is not in a state to economically compensate for the phase-out of its two coal-fired plants through its other activities in renewables, natural gas and sales in France.
In addition to the coal phase-out, France is also looking to shut down 14 nuclear reactors and instead invest on renewable power generation.