Go for it, why the hell not?

Greenpeace is offering to buy a number of coal-fired power stations and brown coal mines in Germany – in order to shut them down.
The environmental organisation has published a letter it sent to the American bank Citigroup formally expressing an interest.
It said it can raise the capital to buy the coal business, which has been valued at as much as €3 billion (£2.2 billion).

As long as they’re spending their own money then why not?

29 thoughts on “Go for it, why the hell not?”

  1. Did Greenpeace by any chance say they were “looking forward to converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character”?

  2. By coincidence, I was thinking about this earlier with respect to the Greenies who buy shares and show up at the AGM to, effectively, prevent the rest of the shareholders making a return on their investments. I suspect they will find these deposits of hydrocarbons cost an order of magnitude more than they expected.

    But isn’t it funny that when an Indian steel magnate buys a British mill and shuts it down, he’s a capitalist pig. But when some lefties chip in to buy a power station and shut it down, that’s all good. I wonder if the new owners will provide suitable redundancy packages to those who are laid off? I suspect we might see some militant unions going head-to-head with Greenie hippies. That ought to be worth watching.

  3. Surreptitious Evil

    Because, by and large, they don’t have “their own money”. Look at the finances. “Their money”, especially at these sorts of levels, is actually state and (mostly) EU grants.

    If it was their money (despite Julia’s valid complaint), I’d have no fundamental problem with it (and if I had the free cash would be investing in other German generating companies because Julia’s complaint is valid!)

  4. I’m looking forward to the coal miners’ meeting when Greenpeace announce they’re all laid off, and then they get their clothes ripped off and have to scramble over a wire fence.

    Popcorn at the ready!

  5. I expect they will raise the capital from rent seeking ‘alternative’ energy providers, who will be quite happy to see competitors bought out and shut down.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset


    According to their About page:

    Greenpeace is independently funded and does not accept donations from governments, corporations or political parties.

    To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants.

    I find it hard to believe that there isn’t some trail of Govt money in to their coffers, though eg tax relief on donations.

  7. I can just see Big Finance looking at the NPV calculation for the project with the answer of “zero” and saying Eff Off.

    However, if they’re heavily invested in other technologies, the global NPV value may look rather better.

  8. German pensioners will join their British counterparts as victims of climate change policies. More people will be killed by measures to combat climate change than ever will be killed by climate change, natural or man-made.

  9. What’s to stop someone coming along and building new coal plants now a gap has opened in the market?

  10. Actually, I suspect this would be struck down in the courts pretty quickly. Would a Chinese company be allowed to buy a German power station with the sole purpose of closing it down? No, and for good reasons. Greenpeace will be told to fuck off in short order if they tried, even the German courts are not so stupid as to allow the lights to go off immediately.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Greenpeace is, as usual, full of sh!t. Their annual budget in 2011 was €236.9 million. So they would need to raise over ten times as much money and then throw it all away on this one business group.

    I don’t see it happening. But they will take the free publicity.

  12. This must be some hitherto unknown use of the word ‘capital’.

    That’ll be a great sales pitch to ‘investors’.
    “Hi. Lend us £100,000,000 to buy this power station and we’ll shut it down and never pay you your capital back or any other return. Yeah, basically you’re just giving us the money.”

    And Dongguan John has it spot on. I’d be tempted to take their money and use it to build a nice shiny new Gas turbine plant.

  13. Two reasons. The legal grounds for dismissal are rather questionable if you close down a profitable and solvent business (in Germany), so the redundancy settlements will know no limit.

    Second, especially if they go after power stations, those probably have delivery contacts and other legal obligations stretching into the far future. And they’re highly regulated. The government got itself into legal trouble when it closed all the nukes post-Fukushima because the owners of a power station aren’t allowed to just switch it off indefinitely.

    So it’ll cost a lot more than the purchase price to do this.

  14. So BiG, if it did somehow manage to buy the power stations Greenpeace would quickly be faced with insolvency or being one of the World’s worst polluters.

    How can I donate?

  15. They will never be happy until they’ve killed off 6.9 billion people and left the rest to be Amish.

  16. on top of the commercial and employment costs of a shutdown, I suspect the remediation and clean up costs on the site would be enormous, and Greenpeace would a) be on the hook for them with no way to wriggle out without looking stupid(er) and b) have to do it to the highest applicable standards that they insist others conform to

  17. Amish require a level of technology beyond that which the Greens approve of . Except when it comes to maintaining their own lifestyle.

    Don’t think the eco-freaks would make it even as Amish. What would Pol do with a home-pickled egg? She’d be looking for a switch to start it vibrating.

    BiG and Stuck-Record between them nail it. The Law and the insanity of spending 3 bill on assets to then smash them up.

  18. Surely anyone who buys a business would expect to inherit existing contracts. These work two ways – they protect the new owner who (normally) would be glad of an existing sales pipeline and (more importantly in this case) they protect the business’ existing customers who wanted to lock in long term supply. Surely Greenpeace would be obliged to continue supply.

  19. @TDK,

    Pretty much the only way they could do this is to intentionally mismanage the company. The clean-up costs have already been mentioned. The prison sentences arising from said intentional mismanagement, well, I guess we’ll soon get a good and very high-profile idea of what the Staatsanwaltschaft’s current thinking along those lines is.

  20. I’ve often wondered what would happen if Greenpeace managed to invade and vandalise a large power station in the UK.

    The immediate effect would be a power cut and sympathetic headlines on the BBC. However the affected public wouldn’t share any enthusiasm. I can’t think of any action more likely to change the image of Greenpeace from “well meaning” to “Luddite” overnight.

  21. Bloke not in Cymru

    Clean up costs would be the big issue, often wondered how many sites are left barely running to avoid such an issue, Llanwern steel works springs to mind, seems to be a death by 1000 cuts, but most probably cheaper to keep some production than shut down.

  22. The immediate effect would be a power cut
    unlikely, there’s spare capacity, and some industrial users can be shut down first. The grid would likely cope with even quite a large outtage.

  23. If they put the germans short , then the germans will just pay extra and get it from other countries – there’s the whole of europe to get the juice from. If there isn’t enough to go round it won’t be the germans that go without, they will just pay extra, it will be poor people in south east of europe who will go without – thinking specifically of albania and such like.

    Bulgaria shut down two nukes to join EU, and i heard that it was the albanians who went without, wish i knew more about how much poorer people went without, and how many deaths were attributable to shutting down the two bulgarian nukes.


  24. unlikely, there’s spare capacity, and some industrial users can be shut down first.

    Only if it comes with a warning. A sudden surprise might bring the entire grid down.

    A terrorist attack took out 80% of Pakistan’s grid for a while just recently.

  25. I would hope that, in the event of power shortages, the people who have advocated for this “future” of 3rd world living are met by a large and outraged mob that has more than enough rope to go around.

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