The ten largest energy utilities produce more than half of Europe's power. Yet, according to Greenpeace's report "Locked in the past: Why Europe's big energy companies fear change", they only produce four per cent of their power from non-hydro renewables.
Greenpeace claims that Vattenfall, together with the other utilities in Europe, is facing a gloomy future with a continued weak demand for electricity, over-capacity, increased competition from renewables and therefore low wholesale prices and reduced plant utilization.
According to the report the utilities "have been so busy attacking the regulations related to renewable energy that they have ignored the benefits of controlling a substantial part of renewable capacities".
Greenpeaces continues: "Changes to EU electricity markets have come much faster over the past few years, something the big energy companies failed to predict. Most developments should not have come as a surprise, as the situation had long been heading that direction".
Sabine Froning, Director European Affairs and Policy Management at Vattenfall, has taken a first look at the report and says:
"Vattenfall acknowledges that the European energy system has undergone fundamental changes in recent years which has made that major factors for the company's business decisions have developed differently from what we had expected.
Demand fell due to the financial crisis, and both wholesale electricity and CO2 prices dropped to lower levels than previously anticipated. In combination with low coal prices, resulting from US shale gas developments, these factors created a market situation in which Vattenfall had to recognise large impairments in its Dutch power business. Electricity production from coal has become more profitable than gas-based production despite significantly higher CO2 emissions."
"Vattenfall supports the call for an ambitious climate target and strengthening of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, in order to steer future production and investments into low carbon technology, " Froning says.
"The company has at the same time invested heavily in enhancing the efficiency of its plants in order to reduce the CO2 impact."
Sabine Froning says Vattenfall is fully committed to act as a partner of the energy turnaround.
"We will continue to seek good solutions for adapting to the changed market environment, by continuing to invest in and partner with renewable energy projects as well as by developing new sustainable products and services. Since all Vattenfall's investments have a long lifetime, we also support the call to refrain from unexpected, radical and retrospective policy changes."
43 billion SEK
Klaus Aurich, Head of Investor Relations, provides details about Vattenfall's investments in renewables.
"We can conclude that since 2006 Vattenfall has invested approximately 29 bn SEK in new built wind power and roughly 14 bn SEK in acquisitions of wind assets, totaling 43 bn SEK. In addition, Vattenfall has invested 5.3 bn SEK in biomass and waste.
"Of the total 105 bn SEK planned investments for 2014-2018, maintenance and replacement accounts for 88 bn SEK (84%). Only 17 bn SEK, or 16%, goes to growth. Of growth investments, wind power accounts for the largest part," says Aurich.
In addition to an ambitious climate target, Greenpeace advocates for a 45% share of renewable energy by 2030 and a reduction of final energy consumption by 40% (compared to 2005).