This paper develops a framework to assess the ability of electric utilities to sustain the forced impairment of carbon emitting power plants and applies it to the European market. We present a new method to measure asset impairment, for both the company and the industry, based on a database of power plants. We develop a novel framework to analyse a utility’s ability to transition by investing in green technology assets through the impact on its credit rating metrics. Finally, we apply our framework to European utilities under scenarios set out by the European Commission to limit global warming by imposing net zero carbon emissions constraints on companies. We conclude that most European utilities have the financial capacity to meet the requirements of net zerocarbon emissions under the scenarios with timely action. However, a delay of as little as five years could cause serious financial problems across the sector.
Can European electric utilities manage asset impairments arising from net zero carbon targets?
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