Interview with Gary Mazzotti: We are investing over 12 billion in reducing emissions. We will be carbon neutral by 2040.

13. 7. 2021

The introduction to the EP Infrastructure Sustainability Report states that your mission is to provide the necessary infrastructure for energy transmission. How does this mission go hand in hand with the major transformation that is taking place in your company in terms of the new goals you have set for yourself as EP Infrastructure?

The transition to zero-emission sources of anything, including energy, is very important for Europe today. Coal-fired power stations are being decommissioned or replaced. Gas is essential for Europe to become independent of carbon. Our company is therefore ideally placed to help make this transformation happen. Europe has set itself the ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. We say we will meet these targets by 2040.

This is a very ambitious goal. What do you need to do to fulfil this commitment?

There are several routes we plan to take. First, we’ll look at our coal resources. We have three coal-fired thermal power plants in the Czech Republic, which we will replace by 2030. It could be gas, biomass, synthetic methane… there are more options. This transformation will substantially reduce our emissions burden. In another division, we are trying to power our compressor stations with renewable energy instead of gas. In Slovakia, we are experimenting with new gases – we are converting renewables into hydrogen to power our compressor stations. Carbon capture will become increasingly relevant for us. And once we get carbon underground, it will help us become carbon neutral.

If you can’t keep up with this transformation?

Then we will build some renewable capacity to offset our emissions. So we have a pretty detailed plan to meet the targets. But if you want to say for sure how it’s all going to happen, I don’t know.

EPH has historically invested in green energy, recently approving a huge investment to build wind turbines in Germany. Do you plan to move in this direction within EP Infrastructure as well?

For EPIF, renewables are not the main strategy. We will only step in if we cannot meet the targets and only where it serves as a supporting technology to a larger whole. Investing in renewables is more the EPH way.

You are presenting an investment-intensive plan. How much will such a transition cost you?

I think we need to invest substantially.

At the end of February, you issued half a billion euros of 10-year bonds. In koruna terms, this amounts to 13.2 billion. And it was relatively cheap money. Is that the way you want to go in the future in terms of financing this transformation?

EPIF is an investment firm. We have issued €2.35 billion of bonds so far. The latest subscription for half a billion euros indicates that the financial community understands the investment potential of our group. And they also see the role we will play in the context of the transition to clean energy.

Do you feel the rate of transformation to carbon neutrality increasing? Europe has set 2050 targets and companies are already racing to see who can reach the target first. Years like 2030 are already falling.

Two factors influence this situation. The first is the political consensus across the European Union and nation states, and the second is the investor community. If you look at insurance companies, they look very closely at how much is being discharged by the clients they insure. And let us also not forget that there is increasing demand for a clean Europe from citizens. It is no longer a question of if, but when. And every month the question of “when” gets closer and closer. Notwithstanding these changes, energy must remain affordable.