EPH plans a 60% reduction in emissions from existing sources by the end of the decade and full carbon neutrality by 2050

9. 8. 2021

  • By 2030, EPH will stop using coal as a fuel for power and heat generation in all countries where it operates except Germany, where EPH will implement a coal phase-out schedule defined by German legislation.
  • In transforming its activities, EPH is also emphasizing the preservation of security of energy supply, affordability for customers and support for local economies in the regions concerned.

Sustainable development in a comprehensive sense, the continuous reduction of the carbon footprint while maintaining security of supply and minimising the impact on energy prices, the efficient transformation of energy resources while maintaining or creating jobs and the support of local economies in the affected regions are the main objectives that the EPH Group has set itself. From 2014 to the end of 2020, EPH has managed to reduce its emissions footprint by almost half, saving 21 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Compared to the EU’s ambitious target of a 55% reduction between 1990 and 2030, EPH Group’s results are extraordinary. In addition, last year a total of 81% of the energy produced by EPH’s resources came from zero- or low-emission sources. EPH is making a significant contribution to meeting Europe’s decarbonisation targets.

By 2030, the EPH Group will stop using coal for power and heat generation in all countries where it operates (except the Federal Republic of Germany). In Germany, it will then proceed in accordance with the Coal Phase-out Act (Kohleausstiegsgesetz), which will result in a nationwide phase-out of coal-fired power generation by 2038 at the latest. An essential and integral part of this process is the transformation of EPH’s energy sources to low-emission or completely emission-free, which will allow the stability of grid supply and long-term affordability of energy prices for a wide range of customers.

In recent years, EPH has decommissioned or moved into reserve the Mumsdorf, Buschhaus coal-fired power plant and the approximately 1,000 MW of installed capacity at the Jänschwalde power plant in Germany. In the UK, EPH decommissioned the 2000 MW Eggborough coal-fired power station and completed the conversion of the Lynemouth coal-fired power station to clean biomass. EPH will cease operations at the German power plant Deuben in 2021, at two French coal-fired power plants Emile Huchet 6 and Provence 5 in 2021 and 2022 and plans to cease operations at the German power plant Mehrum, where the decision taken is subject to approval by the transmission system operator and the network regulator. The Czech Republic’s lignite thermal power plants will be gradually converted to low-emission heat and power sources by 2028/2029.

An example of a comprehensive transformation is the conversion of the Northern Ireland Kilroot power station, originally fuelled with coal and oil-fired units, which will cease operation in 2023. The power station will be transformed into the ‘Kilroot Energy Park’, which will provide a wide range of modern energy facilities such as a solar park, hydrogen generating, natural gas back-up peaking and battery storage to stabilise the energy system, and will thus play an important role in enabling Northern Ireland to achieve its target of generating up to 70% of its energy from renewable sources in 2030 while maintaining the stability of the energy system. The Park will also include state-of-the-art data centres where new jobs will be created. The Park will be capable of supplying electricity to up to 50,000 Northern Irish households, while playing an important role in maintaining the stability of the Northern Ireland power system.

“Our strategy is not simply to divest in a high carbon source which then continues to operate under new ownership, but to actually deliver an energy transition, i.e., the professionally managed and energetically and socially responsible decommissioning of a high carbon source and its subsequent direct (on the same site) or indirect (on another suitable site) replacement with a low or zero carbon source. This is the approach that we believe is the real fulfilment of the energy transition task. By developing new capacity for zero- or low-emission controlled generation sources, we are both meeting the energy needs of the countries and regions concerned and creating new jobs both in the construction phase and in the subsequent operation, which plays an important role, particularly in regions adversely affected by the closure of high-emission sources. In selecting solutions, we focus on cost-competitive, large-scale technologies that combine the imperatives of ecological transformation and energy affordability for households and industry, particularly large biomass and gas-fired power plants and waste-to-energy sources. In addition to the development of controlled output power plants, through EP New Energies, we are focusing on the development of large-scale “conventional” renewable energy projects that are and will be developed, among others, on former mining sites and other land owned by EPH Group entities, primarily in Germany. We are currently working on wind and photovoltaic power plant projects significantly exceeding 1,000 MW, which will be implemented in the coming years,” says Daniel Křetínský, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EPH Group.

EPH is convinced that an important pillar of achieving the goal of emission-free energy will be the production and use of hydrogen in the medium and long term. “We are preparing several projects to build small- and medium-scale hydrogen technologies connected to our gas infrastructure to demonstrate the feasibility of the solutions. At the same time, we have started work on potential robust solutions to accelerate the transition to hydrogen on a large scale. Our goal is to be one of the European leaders in hydrogen production, transport, and storage and to present alternative solutions to public authorities to achieve our goals. We note that the different ways of producing hydrogen differ significantly in terms of cost and technology availability. It is true that, from an environmental point of view, green hydrogen, produced from electricity supplied by wind and photovoltaic power stations, is the costliest and, on a larger scale, an option which will be the latest available. On the other side of cost and time availability is the so-called blue hydrogen, typically produced from natural gas by combining a solution used today mainly in the chemical industry (SMR) and CCUS technology. Blue hydrogen, on the other hand, while dramatically reducing CO2 emissions compared to natural gas, is not completely emission-free. An alternative may be the so-called pink hydrogen, produced by using nuclear technology. In parallel, research is being carried out on other alternatives for hydrogen production. We stress that we will actively support any of the scenarios identified by the EU and relevant Member States’ policies, but only appeal to the rationality of the chosen solution so that the replacement is technologically, energetically, and economically feasible in the given time. The hydrogen transition is a long-term process in each of the scenarios considered. In the meantime, natural gas will play a crucial role in the transformation, and in ensuring security of supply, as it is a key bridging fuel that allows flexible coverage of renewable power generation with non-variable output. The use of natural gas is thus a prerequisite for the expansion of renewable energy sources, which are the main pillar of the EU’s energy transition and the reduction of CO2 emissions,” adds Daniel Křetínský.

This press release is accompanied by the sixth Sustainability Report, which provides further information on EPH’s ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) targets and actual actions and the Group’s overall performance for 2020. The individual ESG principles were adopted in March last year in the form of a set of specific ESG policies, which are updated on an ongoing basis. These policies cover, for example, the protection of biodiversity, ensuring equal opportunities, cybersecurity, and whistleblowing. The EPH Group is aware of its social responsibility and is guided by these principles in relation to the overall transformation of the energy network, where the emphasis is not only on the decommissioning of existing sources but also on their rebuilding or reuse in order to maintain jobs in the affected regions and support local economies.

The full version of the 2020 Sustainability Report can be downloaded here: https://www.epholding.cz/sustainability-reports/