• Czech firms buying up cheap thermal power plants in bet on slower ramp up of renewables

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Two separate Czech firms, EPH and Seven Energy, are following similar strategies to buy up conventional thermal power plants across Europe as other utilities look to offload them to concentrate on renewable power generation. There are further similarities in the two firms, both having considerable operational expertise, having employed senior staff from the state-owned Czech utility CEZ, and both being owned by billionaires. They have reportedly both also lodged bids for full ownership of Engie’s plants near Munich and Bremen, and majority ownership of a third plant in Wilhemshaven. The strategy is an interesting one, essentially amounting to a bet that European countries will need their thermal power plants longer than anticipated as they transition to higher shares of renewable energies. While there is considerable political will in Europe to make the transition, shortages of power, if they were to occur, might considerably change minds, forcing a continuation of thermal power generation, and hence revenue for EPH and Seven Energy. This would be the extreme case, with a more likely scenario beneficial to the Czech firms being a slower-than-anticipated transition which may indeed happen if storage and assorted grid issues are not solved readily. On the other hand, the strategy is not without considerable risk if renewables have a smooth and rapid rollout to very high shares in the grid. Other options may present themselves, too, for the Czech firms holding these assets, for instance conversion to biomass firing or even to hydrogen firing.