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Germany's EnBW struggles amid energy transition

Germany's energy transition has seen the country's third-largest power supplier incur huge losses. And that despite the fact that the utility had opened up to renewables more than its domestic competitors.

EnBW was a highly profitable German power supplier until 2011 when the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan sealed Germany's complete phase-out from atomic energy. The company had to reinvent itself in following the Berlin government's push for more renewables in the country's energy mix.

But despite EnBW's willingness to heed the signs of the time more than any of its rivals - such as RWE and Eon - the firm on Tuesday reported a bottom-line loss of 450 million euros ($476 million) for 2014, compared with a profit of 51 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose only marginally to 21 billion euros, while the operating profit - adjusted for one-off effects - dipped by 2.6 percent to stand at 2.17 billion euros.

Unable to buck the trend

EnBW said it had to make huge write-downs on conventional and non-profitable power stations against the backdrop of electricity overcapacities caused not least by the expansion of the renewables sector.

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Chief Executive Frank Mastiaux said the company would not stray from its objective to boost its renewables business, but even in that future-oriented segment the company's operating profit sank by 13 percent in 2014.

Like everyone else in the business, EnBW - a firm 90-percent owned by the state - had to grapple with a downslide of prices on electricity exchanges.

Trying to put a positive spin on EnBW's full-year results, analysts pointed out that the utility's losses were far lower than the record 3.2 billion euros incurred by Eon and the 1.3 billion euros in losses logged at RWE in 2014.

hg/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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