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Vattenfall AB
Government enterprise
Industry Electric utility
Founded 1909 as Kungliga Vattenfallsstyrelsen
Headquarters Stockholm, Sweden
Key people
Magnus Hall (President and CEO)
Products Electricity generation, transmission and sales
Revenue 171.7 billion kr (2013) [1]
-6.4 billion kr (2013) [1]
-13.5 billion kr (2013) [1]
Number of employees
31,819 FTE[1] (2013)
Subsidiaries Nuon Energy (67%)

Vattenfall is a Swedish power company, wholly owned by the Swedish government. Beyond Sweden, the company generates power in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

The company's name is Swedish for "waterfall", and is an abbreviation of its original name, Royal Waterfall Board (Kungliga Vattenfallstyrelsen).


  • History 1
  • Expansion beyond Sweden 2
  • Generation 3
    • Carbon intensity 3.1
  • Car seatbelt 4
  • Criticism 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Vattenfall (then called Kungliga Vattenfallsstyrelsen/Royal Waterfall Board) was founded in 1909 as a state-owned enterprise in Sweden.[2][3] From its founding until the mid-1970s, Vattenfall's business was largely restricted to Sweden, with a focus on hydroelectric power generation. Only in 1974 did the company begin to build nuclear reactors in Sweden (the Ringhals 1 and 2 reactors), eventually owning seven of Sweden's 12 reactors. In 1992, Vattenfall was reformed as the limited liability company Vattenfall AB.

In the years 1990 through 2009, Vattenfall expanded considerably (especially into Germany, Poland and the Netherlands), acquiring stakes in Hämeen Sähkö (1996), HEW (1999, 25.1% stake from the city of Hamburg), the Polish heat production company EW (2000, 55% stake), Elsam A/S (2005, 35.3% stake), and Nuon (2009, 49% stake).[2][4] In 2002 Vattenfall AB and its acquisitions were incorporated as Vattenfall Europe AG, making it the third-largest electricity producer in Germany.[2]

Following the expansion period, Vattenfall started to divest parts of its business in Denmark and Poland during the years following 2009 in a strategy to focus on three core markets: Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany. Write-downs on coal-fired and nuclear power plant assets in Germany and gas power plants in the United Kingdom as of 2014. Some analysts have perceived this strategic review as a precursor to a partial retreat from continental European activities with a shift of focus towards activities in the Scandinavian market.[7] In this context and in response to a local referendum on re-municipilization of distribution grids, Vattenfall agreed on the sale of company-owned electricity and district-heat grids in Hamburg to the City of Hamburg in early 2014.[8]

Outside of Sweden, Vattenfall is known for forcing the Soviet government to publicly reveal the Chernobyl disaster. The Kremlin had tried to cover up the accident for a day, but elevated radiation levels at Vattenfall's Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant forced the Kremlin to admit the accident had occurred.[9]

Vattenfall's headquarters were moved to a new building in Solna, north of Stockholm, in autumn 2012.
Vattenfall's old buildings in Råcksta were abandoned in autumn 2012. They are being converted into flats since.

Expansion beyond Sweden

Vattenfall used to own assets in Poland until their divestment in 2011. Here exemplarily a power station in Pruszków, near Warsaw.

In 2006, Vattenfall began production of the pilot Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plant at Schwarze Pumpe, Germany. In 2007, the Lillgrund Wind Farm off the southern coast of Sweden was commissioned and began delivering electricity.

Vattenfall has power generation branches in Sweden, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland; in Germany, Vattenfall is the electric utility for the states of Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and Saxony.


As of 2009, Vattenfall generates electricity from fossil fuels (52%), nuclear power (25%), hydropower (21%), and "other sources" (wind power, biomass, waste) (2%).[10]

Some of Vattenfall's most notable power generation plants include the 110 MW Lillgrund Wind Farm off the coast of Malmö, Sweden, the world's largest[11] offshore wind farm at Thanet, UK, the nuclear reactors Brunsbuttel Nuclear Power Plant (67% ownership), Krummel Nuclear Power Plant (50% ownership), Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant (20% ownership) in Germany, and the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant and Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden. The nuclear power stations of Brunsbüttel and Krümmel have been shut down permanently in response to a governmental order in summer 2011 after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Vattenfall also owns a number of coal-fired power stations, including the Jänschwalde Power Station, the Boxberg Power Station, the Lippendorf Power Station (owned in part) and the Schwarze Pumpe Power Station. The Lippendorf power station has been offered for sale in 2013.

Vattenfall also operates biomass, coal-fired, and other power plants in Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

Carbon intensity

Year Electricity
Production (TWh)
(Gt CO2)
kg CO2
kg CO2
2002 166 68.28 411
2003 160 71.47 448
2004 174 69.97 403
2005 175 71.77 410 86.7 5.8[12]
2006 165 74.5 450
2007 184 84.5 459
2008 178 81.72 459
2009 175 79.05 452
2010 93.7 416
2011 167 88.6 418
2012 179 85.0 400
2013 181.7 88.4 412

Car seatbelt

The development of the safety belt is often incorrectly credited to Saab or Volvo. Fatal car accidents were rapidly increasing in Sweden during the 1950s. When a study at Vattenfall of accidents among employees revealed that the majority of casualties came from car accidents, two Vattenfall engineers (Bengt Odelgard and Per-Olof Weman) started to develop the safety belt. Their work set the standard for safety belts in Swedish cars and was presented to Volvo in the late 1950s.[13]


Vattenfall's expansion strategy has involved the acquisition of multiple brown coal-fired power plants, which has been highly controversial in Sweden and Germany due to the fact that brown coal is among the dirtiest forms of electricity generation. In addition, brown coal is strip mined in a process that sometimes forces communities to relocate as mining fields expand.[14]

According to Greenpeace, Vattenfall’s coal-fired power plants account for more than twice as much CO₂-emissions as the rest of Sweden combined, and, if counting their Swedish-owned but foreign-located plants as Swedish, would bring Sweden up to fourth most CO₂-emitting country, counting per capita.

In May 2009, Vattenfall was voted the winner of the 2009 Climate Greenwash Awards for "its mastery of spin on climate change, portraying itself as a climate champion while lobbying to continue business as usual, using coal, nuclear power, and pseudo-solutions such as agrofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS)." [2] Vattenfall owns four of the "dirty thirty" most polluting power stations in Europe.

The first fire in the transformer of the nuclear power plant Krümmel (part owned with E.ON) in 2007 forced a closure of the power plant for over two years, while a short circuit in July 2009 in another transformer led to another closure. Due to these incidents the Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, Peter Harry Carstensen announced that this will be letzter Versuch (their last try) before complete closure of the facility.[15]

Vattenfall has been accused of skirting the line of illegality in its effort to maintain ownership of electrical power grids. Most recently, Vattenfall's efforts to maintain ownership of Hamburg's power grid by lobbying the ruling SPD have drawn criticism.[16]

In Germany, the largely successful Berlin Energy Table alliance united a number of NGOs and local groups initiating a Referendum on the recommunalization of energy supply in Berlin. The referendum took place on November 3, 2013, yet slightly missed the quorum. Just days ahead of the referendum, the Senate of Berlin however promised to match the citizens' initiative's key claim, regardless of the referendum's outcome: to transfer all end-user operations, which are currently driven by Vattenfall, to a public utility company (Stadtwerk) soon to be founded.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b c "Group History". Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Katarina Buhr; Anders Hansson (2011). "Capturing the stories of corporations: A comparison of media debates on carbon capture and storage in Norway and Sweden" (PDF). Global Environmental Change 21. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Vattenfall - press release". Cision Wire. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  5. ^ "Vattenfall writes down 4.6 bln USD, splits Operations". Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Nedskrivningen på 15 miljarder bara början". Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Handelsblatt on Vattenfall's potential retreat from Continental Europe". Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Handelsblatt on Vattenfall's sale of power and heat grids to Hamburg City". Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Chernobyl haunts engineer who alerted world". CNN Interactive World News ( 
  10. ^ "Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  11. ^ MacAlister, Terry (23 September 2010). "British firms miss out as world's biggest offshore windfarm opens off UK coast".  
  12. ^
  13. ^ Andriasson, Rune; Claes-Gvran Bdckstrvm (2000). The Seat Belt : Swedish Research and Development for Global Automotive Safety. Stockholm: Kulturverdskommittin Vattenfall AB. p. 9.  
  14. ^ (Swedish)
  15. ^
  16. ^ Seifert, Dirk. "Legal – Illegal: Vattenfall – Gezielter Rechtsverstoß? Die Hamburger SPD schweigt". umweltFAIR. umweltFAIR. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Yahoo - Vattenfall AB Company Profile at Yahoo!
  • Biq Location Development and Real Estate Services - Management and marketing of industrial space, subsidiary of Vattenfall Europe AG
  • RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall top the list of European CO2 emitters in 2008
  • Vattenfall demands $6 billion in compensation from Germany.
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