The Alpiq Group (Alpiq) generated EBITDA before exceptional items of CHF 80 million in the first half of 2021 and is therefore down on the previous year, as expected. All three business divisions made positive contributions to earnings before exceptional items: The Generation Switzerland business division generated CHF 15 million, the Generation International business division CHF 42 million and the Digital & Commerce business division CHF 41 million.
Solid balance sheet thanks to a systematic financial strategy
Alpiq continued its systematic financial strategy in the first half of 2021 and stands on a solid footing. Net cash flows from operating activities decreased slightly to CHF 172 million. Net debt was reduced to CHF 145 million, as a result of which the gearing ratio (net debt / EBITDA before exceptional items) also decreased to 0.7 at 30 June 2021. Liquidity stands at CHF 1 billion and equity at CHF 3.9 billion in the interim financial statements. The equity ratio decreased to 42.1 % due to the increase in total assets as a result of energy prices.
Positive earnings expected for 2021, below the previous year
For the 2021 financial year as a whole, Alpiq still expects positive results of operations, albeit down on the previous year. While the electricity and CO2 prices on the wholesale markets hedged in Swiss francs will also have a positive effect on Alpiq’s earnings in 2021, the overhaul of the Leibstadt nuclear power plant postponed from 2020 to 2021 will negatively impact earnings. The effects recorded in the first half of 2021 in connection with the increased credit risks of individual counterparties will also be reflected in the year as a whole. Furthermore, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot yet be fully assessed at present.
The first half of the year was characterised on the one hand by challenges in business operations, and on the other we set a new course for work within the Executive Board.
It was with great sadness that we had to announce the death of our colleague of many years and former CEO André Schnidrig in June 2021. André made a significant contribution to shaping our company and was a great role model as a person.
At the end of February, Thomas Bucher, member of the Executive Board and CFO, decided to leave Alpiq at the end of August after six years with the company. He played a decisive role in the successful restructuring and focusing of Alpiq. The Board of Directors appointed Luca Baroni as the new CFO at the end of April. He will assume the position as member of the Executive Board from 1 September. At the end of August, Michel Kolly, member of the Executive Board and Head of Digital & Commerce, decided to leave the company after 15 years. With great success, he played a key role in driving forward international energy trading and the customer business at Alpiq. The search for a successor has been initiated. The Board of Directors and Executive Board would like to thank Thomas and Michel for their many years of valuable and dedicated work for the company.
In the course of downsizing the Board of Directors, the board members Alexander Kummer-Grämiger, Wolfgang Martz and Hans Ulrich Meister did not stand for re-election. The remaining members of the Board of Directors, Conrad Ammann, Tobias Andrist, Aline Isoz, Jørgen Kildahl, Jean-Yves Pidoux and Phyllis Scholl as well as the Chairman of the Board of Directors Jens Alder, were re-elected at the Annual General Meeting in May.
We are guided by the principles of sustainability
Alpiq operates on all important European markets with its expertise in asset, portfolio and risk management. With regard to the corporate strategy, the Executive Board reviews how the business areas and processes add value and contribute to a better climate and security of supply, as enshrined in Alpiq’s purpose. This is: “Our sustainable energy business contributes to a better climate and an improved security of supply.”
Climate protection and security of supply are guiding principles of our business activities. Both factors are also currently setting the tone at a political level. With the Paris Agreement, most countries around the world set themselves ambitious targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow down climate change. By 2050, Europe plans to be the first continent that only emits unavoidable greenhouse gases and, moreover, to fully offset even these low emissions. Switzerland also wants to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. At the same time, security of supply and reliable power production are key for our society and economy.
With the ongoing nuclear energy and fossil fuel phase-out, power production in Europe will continue to change dramatically in the coming years, while flexible gas-fired power plants will grow in importance as a bridging technology until full renewable energy supply is ensured. At the same time, stricter greenhouse gas emission targets bring hope of higher and more volatile electricity prices. This offers opportunities for Alpiq, as we draw on our expertise in the successful marketing of flexibility and renewable energy sources.
Focus on climate protection and security of supply
In this context, we would like to draw your attention to a number of encouraging developments at Alpiq in the first half of the year:
- In the international customer business, higher demand for flexible power production as well as higher volatility on the energy markets resulted in a pleasing business development. Demand for long-term purchase contracts grew in particular in Europe, where we expanded our market shares, strengthening our position in the supply of environmentally-friendly electricity.
- We advanced our renewable energies business across Europe, for example in Spain, where we took over our first photovoltaics portfolio on the Spanish mainland. We are also expanding our photovoltaic activities in Switzerland in a targeted manner and are targeting a portfolio of at least 50 MWp by 2026. At present, six PV projects with a total capacity of 3.3 MWp are planned in Romandy.
- For the highly flexible pumped storage power plant Nant de Drance, in which Alpiq holds a stake of 39 %, the test phase of technical commissioning was successfully continued. The 900 MW power plant which will be fully commissioned for commercial use from mid-2022 will make an important contribution to the security of supply in Switzerland and Europe from renewable energies.
- Alpiq is also a pioneer in the field of hydrogen production in Switzerland and continued to expand its industrial partnerships. Most recent example: Together with two partners, Alpiq is planning to construct a new production plant with an ultimate capacity of up to 10 MW in Freienbach. Green hydrogen is key to shifting from fossil fuels to zero-emission mobility in heavy goods transport.
- Our flexible gas-fired combined-cycle power plants were able to demonstrate their importance as ideal bridging technology to strengthen the security of supply. The investments over the last few years in high electric efficiency of the plants and the low CO2 emissions are starting to pay off.
Many thanks to our employees and shareholders
In the next few years, we want to create sustainable values for our shareholders, customers and the company as well as for the climate and security of supply in Switzerland and across Europe. We will systematically align our business activities with our purpose and deliberately position ourselves on selected markets.
Alpiq’s employees do their best every day to drive our company forward into the future. The engagement of our employees in our company is extraordinary. On behalf of the Board of Directors and Executive Board, we would like to say thank you for the great commitment, fierce loyalty and exceptional dedication.
We also want to thank our shareholders for their unwavering trust. We will continue to focus all our efforts on the further development of our company.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
25 August 2021