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Swedish energy giant seeks German plant sale

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Swedish energy giant seeks German plant sale
A brown oil Vattenfall site in east Germany. Photo: TT
12:02 CEST+02:00
Vattenfall has announced it wants to sell German brown coal plants and mines. The Swedish state owned firm has described the sites as a "burden" for the company, which has recently experienced huge losses.
One of Europe's largest generators of electricity, Vattenfall said it wanted to focus more on greener energy sources instead of brown coal, also known as lignite.
 
"Brown coal sites are a burden for the company," Chairman Lars G Nordström said when questioned by a Swedish parliamentary constitution committee (konstitutionsutskottet) on Wednesday.
 
He added that the political situation in Germany - which is moving away from both coal and nuclear power - was so "uncertain" that it was unwise to plan to open any new pits.
 
According to Nordström, selling existing plants is also necessary to ensure the company can achieve its emissions targets by 2020.
 
His comments echo those in the firm's annual report for 2014, which was released at the end of last month.
 
"To accelerate the transformation towards more renewables, Vattenfall has decided to look into the prospects of finding new owners for its lignite operations in Germany," the company said in a press release on March 25th.
 
The Swedish owned energy firm has operations in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Finland and last year announced high losses amid tough conditions for the European utilities sector.
 
Last month the company warned it could face asset write-downs of around eight billion kronor ($942m) as electricity prices continue to tumble across the globe.
 
Prices fell last year by an average of 22 percent in the Nordic countries and by 13 percent in Germany.
 
Vattenfall will need to secure parliamentary approval before it can move to sell the brown coal sites in Germany.
 
The company's renewable energy projects include the Sandbank offshore wind farm in Germany and another two land-based wind farms in Sweden.
 
In the UK, Vattenfall is the second largest generator of offshore wind power.
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