Vattenfall aims to boost wind power as losses widen

Swedish power group Vattenfall has outlined plans to boost its wind power capacity after reporting wider annual losses.
Vattenfall chief Magnus Hall said Sweden's nuclear power sector was in a 'critical situation'Vattenfall chief Magnus Hall said Sweden's nuclear power sector was in a 'critical situation'
Vattenfall chief Magnus Hall said Sweden's nuclear power sector was in a 'critical situation'

The state-owned firm, led by chief executive Magnus Hall, said its new target for renewables entails the construction of 2,300 megawatts of wind power by 2020, and partnerships would play “an important part” in its growth strategy.

Last year the company signed a tie-up agreement with Swedish pension fund AMF, which bought a share of the Ormonde wind farm in the Irish Sea.

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Hall has previously said that Vattenfall was putting “real pressure” on turbine suppliers in an attempt to drive down costs as admitted that wind farm operators may have to rely on taxpayer subsidies for another decade.

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The group’s onshore wind farms include Edinbane on Skye, which has been running since 2010, and Clashindarroch in Aberdeenshire, which officially opened last June.

Hall said: “The ongoing change of our energy system is dramatic – but also very exciting, and is giving rise to entirely new business opportunities for Vattenfall. I am confident that our strategy and the adaptations we have made and must continue to make will leave us well prepared to secure our position as a reliable partner to our customers and society.”

His comments came as the firm reported a net loss of 19.8 billion Swedish kronor (£1.6bn) for 2015, more than double the previous year’s loss of SEK8.3bn. As a result of the wider losses, which were blamed on “very low” electricity prices and impairments linked to the early closure of two reactors at its Ringhals nuclear plant in Sweden, no dividend will be paid.

Hall said the Swedish nuclear power sector was in a “critical situation” due falling electricity prices and a nuclear tax.

“The remaining reactors will be needed for many years into the future if we are to be able to shift to an entirely renewable energy system in a responsible and cost-effective manner,” he said.

“Also hydro power, which is the foundation of our long-term power generation, is now being hurt by the combination of low prices and very high taxes.”