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Czech energy group bucks green trend with bet on coal

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20th-Mar-2017       
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AFP, Prague :
Bucking a trend set by its European peers to divest from coal, the Czech energy group EPH is buying coal-fired power plants across the continent to the dismay of environmentalists lobbying for a phase-out of fossil fuels.
Its annual production of more than 100 million megawatt-hours in its plants in Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia-enough to power around 30 million homes-makes EPH the seventh largest power producer in Europe.
Set up in 2009, EPH (Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding) relies on coal for more than half of its production capacity.
It's owner, Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, is undeterred by global efforts under the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming by switching from carbon-intensive fossil fuels like coal and oil to clean energy, especially solar and wind.
"From the practical and moral point of view, we believe it's wrong to reject using resources that are necessary to meet the fundamental needs of European citizens," EPH spokesman Daniel Castvaj told AFP of the company's lack of qualms about coal.
The EPH controls about fifty companies with 25,000 employees. Dirty-burning brown coal, also known as lignite, accounts for 30.5 percent of EPH's capacity, while cleaner burning black coal makes up 21.7 percent.
Kretinsky, the sixth wealthiest Czech according to the Forbes magazine, controls 94 percent of EPH. It earned 1.64 billion euros ($1.73 billion) in gross profit in 2015 after taking in 4.57 billion euros in consolidated revenue.

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