Electricity prices in the EU have increased tenfold in one year, presenting challenges for Columbia Salmon

by
Sindre Nordeide

Energy-intensive industry, such as land-based fish farming, faces tough framework conditions. 

As is well known, the energy market in the EU is in crisis, where a cocktail consisting of shut down nuclear and coal power plants, as well as a stop in gas supplies from Russia, has increased electricity prices tenfold in Germany and France.

Looking at the forward market for electricity prices in Germany and France, there is nothing to suggest that the energy crisis will be short-lived.

The forward market for electricity prices in Germany and France. The situation is the same in Belgium. Graph: Bloomberg

Columbi Salmon has long planned to start construction of its land-based facility in Ooestende, Belgium, where in 2020 they purchased the plot of land on which the facility will be located. The company confirms to SalmonBusiness that they have contracts on power delivery, but that the size of the contracts has not yet been decided.

The company told Finansavisen at the end of 2020 that they were preparing to go public at the beginning of 2021. 

Earlier this summer, the company told IntraFish that they were planning an IPO towards the end of 2022, but that the project would cost much more than the NOK 512 million (€52.5 million) they have raised by then.

CFO of Columbia Salmon, Kolbjørn Giskeødegård, told SalmonBusiness that he does not want to comment on a possible IPO.

Leading
Columbi Salmon has stated that they want to become Europe’s leading “sustainable land-based salmon farmer”, where the facility in Belgium will have a capacity of 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of salmon per year.

Giskeødegård told SalmonBusiness that they cannot say anything clearly about what the company estimates, whether there will be a problem for the plans or what the project will look like in the end.

“There are still several years until we are in production, so I do not want to speculate on this,” he said.

When asked about what the company envisages or has estimated in terms of production costs in electricity consumption per kilogram of fish, he does not want to go into it either, or whether they have made a real calculation of the electricity consumption for the new facility.

Idea of ​​gross electricity consumption
He told SalmonBusiness that they have made a rough estimate internally, but that they do not currently wish to comment on this publicly.

“We are still in the final phase of the design, so we don’t know what it will look like yet. We have an idea about gross power consumption, but not something we want to come out with.”

Giskeødegård is aware that there is still much that needs to be done.

“The plan is that we want to use solar cells, but that will only be a small part of the consumption. After all, we also want to use a significant amount of salmon sludge, which we want to convert into combustible biogas, which in turn is converted into electricity.”

Giskeødegård told SalmonBusiness in 2020 that “you have to dare to be a little bit crazy” when he went from Nordea Markets to Columbi Salmon to invest in land-based salmon farming.

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