Local Acceptance

€1,778 million

Net value added that went toward employees and society

3

Number of ongoing disagreements with local communities with regard to environmental issues

264

Apprentices (worldwide)

56

Interns and work-study students (worldwide)

Around 80,000

Annual number of visitors to the information center at Walchensee hydroelectric station

Creating Understanding, Building Trust

The energy world is complex, dynamic, and sometimes contradictory. For example, the expansion of renewables continues, which is good for climate protection. But it also highlights contradictions between people’s environmental, social, and economic preferences: although many people generally support renewables growth, few would welcome higher energy prices or an unreliable power supply caused by the fluctuations in wind and solar output. The tension between different viewpoints becomes more intense at the local level. Communities often oppose the construction of new energy assets in their vicinity. It matters little whether the asset is a wind farm or a coal-fired power station. “Not in my backyard” is an attitude common in many countries. In our daily operations, we too encounter differing and sometimes contradictory viewpoints among our local stakeholders.

Ultimately, this situation can have an adverse effect on the operations and planning certainty of our business, be it coal, gas, nuclear, or hydro. That’s why it’s very important for us that not only our enterprise partners understand and support our business activities but that our neighbors and decision-makers at the local, regional, and national level do too. First and foremost, this means that we need to listen to our stakeholders and talk with them about the purpose of our business activities. We’d like people to know how much value we create for the economy and for society at large. For example, we want them to understand the contribution our power plants, gas-storage facilities, and long-term gas procurement contracts make to supply security. We also need to lay out our plans for the future, and explain how we represent our interests. All of this helps us earn our stakeholders’ trust and continually improve our company, which is the only way we can achieve lasting success.

Engaging stakeholders

Although we can’t meet all our stakeholders’ expectations, we do strive for as much public acceptance and support as possible. To do this, we must conduct an intensive dialog with relevant stakeholder groups and convince them of the advantages our activities have for society. Our Stakeholder Management policy stipulates how we interact with stakeholders across our company. It defines our objectives for internal and external communications and assigns roles and responsibilities.

Our Corporate Communications & Governmental Relations department oversees our stakeholder management. Depending on the issue, it involves other departments, such as Generation, Procurement, or Sales. The dialog formats vary, ranging from information stands at trade fairs and public forums for residents who live near our power plants to discussions with community representatives and local interest groups.

At E-World 2016 in Essen, our large-customer sales and energy storage teams displayed their products for the first time under the Uniper banner. They showcased a broad palette of power and gas products and innovative energy solutions for industrial customers and municipal and regional utilities. Visitors were also able to get information about the services and pricing models for gas storage, which for the first time was offered as a full-service product. The M5BAT, our prototype utility-scale battery, was another highlight.

Many of the solutions on display were the result of close partnerships with our customers. One example is the Uniper Digital Platform, which enables customers to procure the energy they need simply and conveniently, while factoring in the current market situation.

In the case of our power plants, plant managers and members of our Corporate Communications team take the lead in conducting our dialog with local residents and other stakeholders. A fair and transparent exchange of views helps us understand stakeholders’ concerns and, as far as we can, factor them into our plans.

Datteln coal-fired power plant: multi-year dialog

Flexible conventional power plants will continue to play an important role in the decades ahead to support the further expansion of renewables. We’re building one of the world’s most technologically advanced and efficient coal-fired power plants in Datteln in west-central Germany. Throughout planning and construction, we held roundtable discussions with regional stakeholders several times a year. All participants had the same rights and obligations throughout the dialog process. This made it possible for differing views, interests, concerns, and points of contention to be addressed openly and fairly. We drew on the results as the project moved forward and published them in press releases, in a newsletter, and on our website.

This process wasn’t always easy. But the intensive dialogs with the people and decision-makers of the region have been important. In January 2017 the Münster district government issued the emission-control permit release for the plant1.  We intend to complete the plant as soon as possible so that it can provide electricity to the German Federal Rail Service and district heating to more than 100,000 households in the Datteln area.

Hydropower: clean energy next door

In Germany alone we operate 108 hydroelectric stations (run-of-river, impoundment, and pumped-storage stations) along more than 1,000 kilometers of the Lech, Isar, Donau, and Main rivers in southeast Germany. We also have a plant on Lake Eder, one of Germany’s largest artificial lakes. The responsibility for operating these assets safely and economically is assigned by river system, giving us four river groups. Their job is to prevent flooding and environmental damage. They also work closely with stakeholders ranging from political leaders (mayors, county commissioners, members of parliament) to nature conservation associations and other NGOs.

The river groups are supported by our local Stakeholder Relations team. It ensures that we begin the dialog process early so that we can resolve potential conflicts. It does this by providing stakeholders with comprehensive information and by engaging them in dialog in several formats: regional “Hydropower in Dialog” conferences held annually or every two years, information events for public officials, and public forums.

Situated in the picturesque Alpine foothills of southern Bavaria, historic Walchensee hydroelectric station has been an official industrial landmark since 1983. Its state-of-the-art Information Center uses digital technology, interactive touch screens, and explanatory placards to introduce visitors to the world of clean, green hydroelectricity. Tens of thousands come each year to learn about Walchensee and about the energy of the future.


Biomass: debate on environmental impact

Over the years, we’ve gathered extensive experience in generating energy from waste and biomass. We market our technical expertise in these areas to companies worldwide. Although biomass currently represents only a small part of our generation mix, its significance is increasing for both economic and environmental reasons. For one thing, coal-fired power plants can be converted to biomass relatively easily, something we’ve already started at Maasvlakte 3 in the Netherlands and Provence 4 in France.

But some people have concerns about co-firing wood biomass. Deforestation of the landscape in the region or procurement wood from forests that aren’t managed sustainably need to be avoided.

Provence 4, a 150 MW biomass-fired power plant, will burn wood chips from French forests to produce climate-friendly power. This has met with opposition from communities in the region. Many people are concerned that it will be bad for France’s forests. In the ongoing dialog, we assure them unequivocally that we’ll procure wood responsibly. Initially, for example, just over half of the wood will be imported. Although our procurement will gradually shift to regional sources in subsequent years, it will still represent a tiny fraction of the harvestable forests of the Provence area. Moreover, a large portion of the wood chips will come from tree trimmings collected in gardens and parks as well as other ecologically sound sources. In partnership with members of the forestry industry in southern France, we produced a TV commercial underscoring our commitment to sustainable forest management.

With biomass becoming a bigger part of our business, we’re reviewing our procurement activities. This includes answering questions like whether we should conduct biomass procurement centrally (and if so, how) and what standards for sustainable forest management we should apply when selecting suppliers. We intend to further intensify our review in 2017 together with the department responsible for our global procurement. 

Differences of opinion and open issues

Dialog doesn’t resolve all differences. Sometimes we call in outside experts for advice. And some disputes can only resolved through litigation.

Area

Description

Environment

On March 4, 2016, the Münster district government approved the preliminary resumption of construction at the Datteln 4 power plant in west-central Germany with immediate effect. BUND NRW, an environmental organization, filed a lawsuit against the approval on April 4, 2016. The lawsuit was subsequently denied. On September 16, 2016, the Münster district government issued a second approval, also with immediate effect, for the preliminary resumption of construction at Datteln 4.1

Environment

Three lawsuits were filed in recent years against the environmental permit we obtained to convert the Provence 4 power plant in southern France to burn biomass.

Environment

Loiblweiher, a stretch of terrain near Lake Steinberger in southeast Germany, is possibly beeing harmed by contaminated water from an aluminum plant nearby. As the owner of the property we immediately closed the area and conducted an investigation in 2016, which did not raise any urgend issues. We expect additional findings in 2017.

Impacts on society

Our business activities make a positive contribution to society in many ways. Wherever we operate we help promote economic and social development, and not only as a reliable energy supplier. We pay wages, salaries, and other benefits to our employees. We also pay taxes to government entities, interest to our lenders, and dividends to our shareholders.

Net Value Added

€ in millions

Use

2016

2015

Employees

Wages, salaries and social security contributions

1,179

1,260

Government entities

Current income taxes, other taxes1

599

362

Lenders

Interest payments2

318

293

Non-controlling interests

Portions of Group income attributable to non-controlling interests

-17

328

Shareholders

Dividend proposal3

201

1Adjusted for deferred taxes; does not include additional government levies such as concession fees.
2Does not include the accretion of non-current provisions; includes capitalized interest.
3The dividend proposal is determined based on the value added from both continuing and discontinued operations.

Ongoing and planned plant closures

Not just our business activities have positive and negative consequences, so do our ongoing and planned plant closures. They’re good for the earth’s climate. But at the same time they can be difficult for nearby communities, which lose good-paying jobs, tax revenues, and contracts for local businesses providing goods and services to the plant. We’re required to provide the local transmission system operator (TSO) and the Federal Network Agency twelve months’ advance notice of any plant closures. The TSO then reviews the plants’ relevance for its system. Consequently, in 2017 we gave official notification of our intention to decommission Irsching 4 and 5, two combined-cycle gas turbines in southeast Germany that can’t operate profitably in the current market situation but that so far have not been allowed to be shut down.

It’s particularly important that we understand the economic, social, and environmental impact of plant closures. Moreover, we want to work with everyone involved to implement the energy transition responsibly, to support communities affected by closures, and to help them during the transition. In 2016 we joined an innovation forum in which many companies in Germany share information for making the energy transition as cost-efficient as possible. We want to be part of the change process right from the start.

We decommissioned or sold power plants in five countries in 2016:

Country

Asset

Status

Belgium

Langerlo

Sold

Germany

Veltheim

Decommissioned

Ummeln

Decommissioned

Netherlands

Galileistraat CHP

Decommissioned

Sweden

Oskarshamn 2

Decommissioned

United Kingdom

Ironbridge

Decommissioned

We plan to decommission other plants in Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden:

Country

Asset

Year of planned decommissioning

Germany

 Irsching 5  Notification of decommissioning filed

 

Netherlands

Maasvlakte 1 (coal)

2017

Maasvlakte 2 (coal)

2017

Sweden

Oskarshamn 1 (nuclear)

2017

Pleinting 1 and 2 did not operate in 2016.

Our responsibility as an employer

We believe it’s our responsibility to create opportunities for the next generation of employees. This includes our in-house training and development programs. In 2016 we had 264 apprentices and 56 work-study students and interns in Germany. We also started Uniper Explorer, our talent-development program, which 20 recent university graduates joined in 2016.

During the program, the trainees will get to know different parts of our company and play an active role in developing new approaches to shaping tomorrow’s energy landscape.

Our subsidiaries across Europe also conduct or support talent-development and learning programs. The Uniper Engineering Academy in the United Kingdom offers technical training programs for the utility sector, manufacturing, and heavy industry. In the Netherlands we’re a member of the Royal Dutch Gas Association, which gives undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about gas turbines. We help design the learning programs and invite students to visit one of our power stations to get a closer look at our business. Unipro, our subsidiary in Russia, runs a program called Career Starts at School, which funds preparatory programs at its power plants designed for secondary-school students who want to study engineering.

Like many other companies, we’re moved by the plight of refugees. In 2016 we responded in Germany by empowering our employees to volunteer to assist them.

Uniper Energy Sales employees in Germany can take two days off per year to volunteer with local refugee-assistance initiatives. The members of our Management Board did the same, spending one day in 2016 helping out at a refugee housing facility. Two refugees were give temporary employment at Uniper Energy Sales to prepare them for the German job market. They gained skills with performance indicators for product management, webmastering, software tests, and business development.


1On February 20, 2017, a request for reviewing the plant emission threshold for mercury was filed by Uniper. The following day, the environmental organization BUND NRW filed another legal action against the plant. For updates, please visit our website or www.bund-nrw.de.

Assured Content

Selected figures were independently audited and are identified by the “audited” check symbol   .
Qualitative content related to the Management Approach was also part of the assurance.

Download the Assurance Statement here