Our material topics
Our strategic plan
Our material topics
Our material topics
Our material topics
Areas of focus
We’re committed to minimizing pollution and protecting the environment.
We actively manage our operations so that they have the least possible negative environmental and social impacts. Using natural resources efficiently and responsibly is important to us.
Uniper’s awareness of its environmental impacts is strategically important because the environmental performance of its assets significantly affects its operating efficiency, market position, and reputation. To minimize environmental risks, we have in place management systems certified to ISO 14001, the internationally recognized standard for environmental management. We believe that having our industrial facilities certified to ISO 14001 enhances our ability to prevent incidents that could have adverse impacts on the environment.
We aim to maintain the certification of 100% of our operational assets to ISO 14001.
As of year-end 2020, 100% of the operational assets of Uniper’s fully consolidated subsidiaries had retained their ISO 14001 certifications and in addition our Datteln 4 power plant in Germany was also certified.
We’ve set a target to have no severe environmental incidents
In 2020, we had no severe environmental incidents. We carefully investigate all incidents and all significant environmental near-hits and take appropriate steps to prevent them from recurring.
Air emissions are an important topic for local stakeholders. We define significant air emissions as regulated under international conventions and/or national laws or regulations.
kt of dust emissions
Despite being equipped with extensive filters, coal-fired power stations emit dust, which is defined as particles with a diameter of at most 10 microns. Our dust (or particulate) emissions were 0.47 kilotons lower in 2020 than in 2019.
SO2 results primarily from the combustion of sulphurous coal. Flue-gas desulfurization equipment captures about 90% of our SO2 emissions and prevents them from entering the atmosphere. We emitted 8.4 kilotons of SO2 in 2020, just under 3.6 kilotons less than in 2019.
kt of nitrous oxides (NOx) emissions
Our gas- and coal-fired power stations emit NOx, the majority coming from our power stations in Russia. In 2020, these emissions declined by 8.8 kilotons from 2019 (47.3 kilotons).
We aim to get as much energy as possible from every unit of fuel.
m metric tons
Our coal-fired power plants consumed 10.2 million metric tons of coal and lignite in 2020, about 1.6 million tons less than in 2019. Continual upgrades of our assets have enabled us to consume less coal to produce more power.
Minimizing our waste
We’re committed to minimizing waste, use fuels and other natural resources efficiently and responsibly, and marketing the by-products of power generation so that they don’t end up in a landfill and so that no additional energy is consumed to make them.
m metric tons of operational waste produced in 2020
This is a decrease from 2019 (0.235 million metric tons). One way we shrink our environmental footprint is by avoiding waste or reusing it. Waste results from our operations and our projects to dismantle assets. We always try to reuse and recycle as much waste as possible. But our primary objective is not to produce any waste in the first place.
Maximizing the reuse of power-plant by-products
Increasingly, we aim for a life-cycle approach for our operations. As part of this approach, we market by-products from our fossil-fueled power plants. These plants are equipped with flue-gas cleaning systems that absorb sulphur compounds and other environmentally harmful materials in pulverized fly ash, furnace bottom ash, and gypsum.
% of gypsum was recovered and sold as by-products in 2020
Gypsum is a by-product of the desulfurization process in coal-fired power stations. In 2019, we produced 0.6 million metric tons of it (2018: 0.9 million metric tons).
As part of obtaining permission to build and operate a power plant or other industrial asset, we compile biodiversity data about the site and surrounding areas, assess the asset’s potentials impacts, and put in place, often in consultation with conservation agencies, management controls to minimize these impacts. Throughout an asset’s operating life, we monitor the controls’ effectiveness. In addition, we protect and, if possible, enhance the ecological value of the land around our assets and educate our staff and contractors on the importance of protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
In 2020, we gave around 12,000 elvers a new home in Sweden.
In partnership with other companies that operate dams on the river, Uniper is conducting a project to annually restock the Ätran with elvers (young eels) from the English Channel, which has a surplus. Stocking of imported and quarantined eels is an important part of Sweden’s eel management in line with the European Eel Regulations.
Water 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 sufficient water flow in rivers or sufficient water levels in reservoirs. In addition, our thermal power stations draw cooling water from estuaries, rivers, and the sea. As we develop our business in parts of the world where water scarcity is a more urgent issue, we must be particularly vigilant.
bn cubic meters of water withdrawn for our cooling operations in 2020
We discharge back to source a large proportion – 99.1% in 2020 – of the water we withdraw.
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Climate Action and Security of Supply
The dilemma of investing in social and environmental remediation activities
Even if a negative impact is clearly visible on the ground, sometimes it is not easy to identify its specific source