The owner of the Rotterdam coal-fired power station on Maasvlakte 2 is prepared to close it shortly. A spokesman for the American Riverstone confirms to the NOS that the company has made an offer for this to Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate. This increases the chances that the cabinet will be able to achieve the climate targets by the end of the year and comply with the Urgenda judgment.
Minister Wiebes announced in September that he is willing to pull the wallet to achieve the so-called Urgenda goals in the short term by closing one of the remaining coal-fired power stations. Earlier, the minister paid for the closure of the Hemweg power station in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands still has three large coal-fired power stations, all of which are in the top 10 of most climate-polluting companies in the Netherlands. These are the RWE coal-fired power station in Eemshaven in Groningen and the Uniper and Riverstone power stations on Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam. Together, the coal-fired power stations account for about 7 percent of the total CO2 emissions in the Netherlands.
The American investment fund Riverstone is the only one of the three owners who has responded positively to the offer from Minister Wiebes. The German energy companies RWE and Uniper have both stated in a statement that they will not participate in the auction. It is financially more attractive for the American investor than for RWE and Uniper. Riverstone bought the power plant ‘second-hand’ more than a year ago from the French energy company Engie.
The three large coal-fired power stations in the Netherlands are no more than six years old and have cost between 1.5 and 3 billion euros. Minister Wiebes is now prepared to pay up to 328,000 euros per megawatt of power for closure. For RWE Eemshaven, this means a yield of about 500 million euros, while the power plant cost almost 3 billion euros. Uniper would also have a loss of more than a billion euros with an estimated proceeds of more than 350 million.
Profit for Riverstone
Where both German companies would suffer heavy losses, the Americans could even make a profit. According to insiders, Riverstone would have paid about 200 million euros to the French Engie and an agreement with the government could yield about 240 million. The Riverstone coal-fired power plant has also been shut down since the beginning of this year due to technical problems and will probably not be operational again until December. Coal-fired power plants are also currently facing competition from gas-fired power plants due to historically low gas prices.
Details of Riverstone’s offer are not yet known and therefore it is not yet clear whether all conditions have been met. Any agreement must be approved by the European Commission and the House of Representatives. Riverstone also has to get approval from the works council of the power plant and the unions. The ministry hopes to be able to present an agreement to the Lower House in November. By 2030, there should no longer be any coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands.