Coronavirus: Green energy shines for European utilities amid broad market slump
European utilities with bulging renewable energy portfolios are showing that the way out of the coronavirus slump is colored green.
Energy companies from Orsted A/S to Iberdrola SA reported robust first quarter earnings in a period that has been bedeviled by a slump in energy demand and a collapse in gas prices. Owning large wind and solar portfolios has so far protected those companies from the worst effects of the crisis.
Utilities are the third best performing sector on the Stoxx 600 this year, down 11 percent instead of the 17 percent slump the broader market has suffered.
“There is complete consensus that the road to economic recovery must be green,” Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola’s chairman, said after announcing the results on Wednesday.
Here follows a round up of the key energy earnings:
The world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms, gave a sign that green power generators will emerge from the crisis relatively unscathed. The Danish firm maintained its earnings guidance for the year in its first-quarter update to the market.
Conservative hedging and 90 percent of generation from renewables should largely shield Orsted’s profit from the sharp decline in power prices and demand, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
However, what lies ahead may be harder to navigate. Offshore wind projects in the US are facing regulatory delays, pushing back the moment hundreds of megawatts were due to come online, potentially by years.
The Spanish energy giant shrugged off any concerns that the coronavirus is hurting its business despite a collapse in demand in one of the European nations hit hardest by the pandemic. It maintained its growth and dividend target for the year. It pointed to 8.5 gigawatts of new capacity under construction as well as plans to hire 5,000 people as all reasons to be optimistic for the future.
The state-owned Swedish utility showed how to profit from a collapse in prices by making 1.77 billion kronor ($180 million) from buying and selling energy. Traders managed to navigate volatile markets driven by the growing impact of the pandemic and a glut of natural gas that sent European benchmark prices down by almost half this year. Profit for Vattenfall’s growing wind business was up 44 percent.
The utility said Wednesday that it plans to revise all its natural gas procurement contracts in 2020. Gas prices slid to record lows in Europe and Asia, and many buyers are looking for deferrals of shipments. The rout is pushing gas buyers to seek better deals from suppliers in a market that’s seen to remain in a glut until at least the middle of the decade.