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    Uniper Reports Stronger Profit for 2020


But the German utility saw a drop in its power trading profits.

by: William Powell

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Uniper Reports Stronger Profit for 2020

German utility Uniper posted March 3 an adjusted pre-tax profit of €998mn ($1.2bn) for 2020, up 16% from €863mn in 2019. Its adjusted net income of €774mn was also up substantially on 2019's $614mn. 

The 2020 financial year benefited in particular from a successful gas business at the global commodities segment but the power segment earned less year on year, including a reduction in volume and price in its Russia operations as well as more hydro-power in Siberia. The international trading business likewise lagged behind prior-year earnings owing to the difficult market situation.

The European generation segment's earnings were up, owing to higher prices for nuclear power and increased hydropower output and optimisation of the fossil generation portfolio also led to higher earnings. These positive developments were partly offset by lower output from nuclear power stations and extended periods of unavailability.

Foreign exchange was another adverse factor. Overall, this segment's earnings "remained significantly below its prior-year earnings."

Economic net debt rose by €463mn from year-end 2019 to €3.1bn as it made higher provisions for pensions and asset-retirement obligations owing to the decline in interest-rate levels, but financial net debt improved owing to cash flow.

Uniper announced in March 2020 that it intends to make its power generation business in Europe carbon-neutral by 2035. Systematically implementing its coal exit plan and other measures will enable it to achieve more than 50% of this target by 2030.

In December 2020, Uniper and Finnish state utility Fortum, which is the majority shareholder agreed on joint sustainability targets for both companies. A key objective is to make both companies carbon-neutral by 2050, making a contribution to the Paris climate agreement.

Uniper halved its emissions from its European power generation between 2016 and 2019 with the exit from fossil fuel generation in France, Germany and Benelux. It will halve it further, to 11mn mt/yr, by exiting coal or decarbonising its power assets by 2030. The sector will be carbon neutral by 2035, it says, with green hydrogen development and marketing playing a big part in this. It is aiming for 1 GW of wind and solar by 2025 and another 3 GW "in subsequent years."