EOn to spin off nuclear assets to Uniper

28 April 2015

Uniper will be the name of the non-renewable company to spin off from EOn. The name means 'Unique Performance' and the company will own stakes in 17 operating reactors across Germany and Sweden.

The German Energiewende has forced the early shutdown of some nuclear units, curtailed the operating lives of others, and put commercial pressure on fossil generation by preferentially subsidising renewable sources. Formerly one of Europe's strongest utilites, EOn has responded by splitting in two: a renewable and customer-focused company will continue with the name EOn, while a much larger company called Uniper will continue with coal, oil, gas and nuclear generation and engineering as well as energy trading.

The name of the new company was announced yesterday, along with some details of its management and the transition plan. Uniper will be headed by Klaus Schäfer as CEO and supported by Christopher Delbrück as chief financial officer. Eckhardt Rümmler will be Uniper's chief operating officer "and oversee Uniper's technical assets." Uniper will be headquartered in Düsseldorf with the nuclear portion of the company based in Hanover.

Uniper's nuclear assets
The new company's nuclear assets will include ownership of the shut down Isar 1 and Unterweser plants as well as 100% of Grafenrheinfeld, 25% of Gundremingen B and C, 83.3% of Grohnde, 80% of Brokdorf, 75% of Isar 2 and 12.5% of Emsland all of which still are operating but will all be closed before the end of 2022. 
Outside of Germany, Uniper will also own 29.6% of the four unit Ringhals plant in Sweden, of which majority owner Vattenfall said today it plans to close units 1 and 2 early due to market conditions, including the impact of a nuclear capacity tax raised by a Green-influenced coalition government. It will also own 54.5% of three reactors at Oskarshamn and 8.5% of three more at Forsmark in Sweden.

Current EOn CEO Johannes Teyssen will continue as CEO of the trimmed down EOn. He plans to complete the split by 1 January 2016 and spin off a majority stake in Uniper to current EOn shareholders in July 2016.

Under pressure

The German government's reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011 cost EOn the opportunity to generate power from Isar 1 and Unterweser 1. This loss as well as the costs of a nuclear fuel tax amount to around €8 billion ($8.7 billion), and Uniper is expected to maintain pursuit of compensation for this through the courts.
In the face of renewable subsidies, EOn and other German utilities have struggled to profit from operating even brand-new fossil power plants. The German Association of Wind and Water(Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft, BDEW) said that the economic viability of more than half of Germany's planned power plants was called into question by government policies. Last weekend saw big demonstrations on both sides of the debate - a human chain to 'end coal' and a march by fossil fuel workers calling for a 'just energy transition'.

In the Netherlands, EOn and its partners have applied to close down the Irsching 4 and 5 CCGT units - which were only built in 2010 and 2011 - saying they "have no prospect of operating profitably when the current contract with the network operator expires in March 2016." However, the country's grid operator TenneT TSO may declare the units 'system relevant' and force them to be kept open.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News