Resource Efficiency

20.8%

Reduction in the amount of coal we used relative to the prior year

2.5m metric tons

Amount of recyclable by-products1 derived from conventional power generation

Only 6%

Percentage of combustion residuals2 derived from conventional power generation that has to be disposed of as waste.

Conserving Resources for the Future

The global population lives beyond its ecological means. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day comes earlier and earlier. It marks the date when humanity’s annual demand exhausts the earth’s resources for that year. Economic growth in mature and, especially, in newly industrialized countries is the main reason, and rising global energy demand is an important factor. We generate energy with a number of finite resources: coal, natural gas, and biomass, and we work hard to use them as efficiently and responsibly as possible.

We try to get as much energy as possible from every kilo of fuel. This shrinks our ecological footprint and reduces our costs. Lower resource consumption makes us also less dependent on different markets. Fuel procurement is attended by opportunities as well as a variety of risks. These risks can include potential human rights violations in the coal supply chain, political uncertainty in some gas-producing countries, and the adverse impact of biomass cultivation on biodiversity. We strive to avoid these risks. In addition, we’ve committed ourselves to using water responsibly and reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste we produce.

Centralized global procurement

Procurement is a key lever for optimizing our resource use. Our Global Origination Desk conducts centralized procurement for our operations. It has a complete, real-time overview of the supply chain for our power and gas business. Its job is to procure fuel and raw materials fast, cost-effectively, and in a way that protects the environment. Our primary fuels are natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal, and biomass (wood pellets). But we don’t just buy raw materials for our power plants. We also trade them and market a number of by-products from our power stations.

Fuel Consumption (Our Generation Fleet, Excluding Trading for Third Parties)

Natural Gas1

Billion m3

Coal/lignite

Million tonnes

Germany

0.3

France

1.1

Hungary

0.3

Germany             

5.2

Netherlands

0.3

Netherlands

4.3

Russia

11.9

Russia2

4.5

Sweden

0.1

United Kingdom

0.5

United Kingdom       

2.1

 

 

Oil, biomass, and nuclear fuel consumption is not reported here since the relative installed capacity (10.4% of total Uniper Group energy mix) has been subject to major conversion and decommissioning projects directly affecting operations. Thus, the relative figures were not considered material. We will provide full disclosure of our fuel consumption from 2017 onward.
1Figures do not include power plants in Langerlo, Belgium (sold in January 2016). Our power plant in Vilvorde, Belgium, consumed 1,020,337 m3 of natural gas in 2016 (in strategic reserve and not operational).
2Lignite only.

In 2016 we introduced an updated framework that enables the Global Origination Desk and our local procurement teams to work together more efficiently. We streamlined processes and improved communications between the teams involved. This will ensure that each of our power plants has just the right amount of fuel, thereby ensuring cost-effectiveness and preventing unnecessary inventory.

Use less, derive more

Asset management and modernization also help us use resources efficiently. For example, almost twice as much energy can be derived from hard coal today than in 1950. And further improvements are possible. We also need less coal because some of our plants operate below their full capacity and because others have been sold or have been decommissioned as they reach the end of their operating lifespan. Our coal fleet used 20.8% less coal in 2016 than in 2015.

To further reduce our use of natural resources, in 2016 we introduced a new integrated management system based on our Physical Asset Policy and our Health Safety, Security, and Environment Management Policy. These documents include provisions that specify in detail how we use resources. Our asset management ensures that we do this as effectively as possible.

To put policies in place we must first learn the basics. How can we best integrate environmental issues into our operations? How should we prioritize them? In Russia, 2017 will be Environmental Care Year, symbolizing the country’s commitment to environmental protection. In December 2016 Unipro, our subsidiary in Russia, launched a pilot workshop at Smolenskaya power plant. The workshop consisted of team discussions that addressed both economic and environmental aspects of business decision-making processes. This kind of initiatives helps us achieve the playing level field we are striving for in the coming years – and are inspiration to others. This kind of initiative is a good starting point for further improvements and inspires other sites to conserve resources.

Closing the loop

A circular or closed-loop economy is becoming an increasingly promising approach for us. The idea is to use raw materials in a way that minimizes waste and emissions and to reuse or recycle them. We can, for example, produce energy using waste or biomass, which conserves resources. A circular economy can protect the climate as well because it involves reusing by-products. This makes our commodity supply chain more sustainable and less dependent.

We’re already working hard to shrink our environmental footprint by avoiding waste or recycling it. Waste results from our operations and our projects to build or dismantle assets. For example, we create waste when we burn coal to generate power and when we dismantle nuclear power stations. We always try to reuse as much waste as possible. But our primary objective is not to produce any waste in the first place, which is why we operate our power plants as efficiently as possible. This reduces fuel consumption and thus the resulting waste. Residual waste is disposed of responsibly in close collaboration with waste-removal companies.

Ash and slag3

We produced 2,083,877 metric tons  of fly ash and slag in 2016, primarily at our coal-fired power stations. 90.8% of it was reused. BauMineral, a wholly owned Uniper subsidiary, markets fly ash and its by-products so that a portion can be used as construction material for road building and other purposes.

Gypsum3

Gypsum is primarily a by-product of flue-gas desulfurization in coal-fired power stations. In 2016 we produced 957,375 metric tons  of it. Gypsum is nonhazardous and can be used as a construction material. In Germany and the Netherlands, our BauMineral subsidiary markets the recycled gypsum resulting from flue-gas desulfurization.

Furthermore, our flue-gas cleaning equipment captures sulfur compounds as well as other environmentally harmful materials. However, these latter materials are difficult to dispose of in an environmentally neutral way. For more information, please visit www.baumineral.de

 

 

Radioactive waste (Sweden)

We operate nuclear power stations in Sweden, which produce low-, intermediate-, and high-level radioactive waste. This waste totaled 655 metric tons in 2016. It gives us an enormous responsibility. That’s why safety and radiation protection are high priorities at our assets and during transport and storage. GRI Content Index

Using water responsibly

Water availability is crucial to our business. Our hydroelectric stations are situated on numerous large and small bodies of water in Germany and Sweden. To produce power they need enough water supply or sufficient water levels in reservoirs. Furthermore, our conventional power stations draw cooling water from rivers and lakes.

Water Withdrawal for Cooling1

Fresh groundwater, municipal water, fresh surface water, rainwater, and seawater

m3

DE

GB

HU

NL

RU

SE

Total

Fresh
groundwater

97,105

97,105

Municipal
water

11,498,009

1,050

11,499,059

Fresh surface
water

288,422,042

51,640,201

201,223,339

110,368,074

328,739,079

980,392,735

Rainwater

37,700

37,700

Seawater

531,943,436

476,880,389

2,192,179,354

2,243,424,024

5,44,427,203 

Sum

831,998,292

528,520,590

201,223,339

2,302,547,428

328,739,079

2,243,425,074

6,436,453,802

1Figures only include fully consolidated thermal power stations and nuclear power stations.
The table does not include figures from France. Our power station there (Emile Huchet) has a special cooling system for which water is not classified as cooling water. Nevertheless, we report our water withdrawal there because we consider it relevant from a country perspective (2016: 14,036,797 cubic meters).

1Sum of recycled and by-products pulverised fuel ash (PFA), furnace bottom ash (FBA) and gypsum.
2PFA, FBA, and, gypsum.
3Figures only include fully consolidated thermal power stations.

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