It is not easy to find anywhere in Europe as much determination as in Poland for building new coal. The only place to find a similar coal enthusiasm is at the door step of Europe, in the Balkans, looking set to be fuelled by Chinese money. But even there the future of coal is shaky.
In the pale sunlight of an unseasonably warm December day, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday cut the ribbon to open the Mihailo Pupin Bridge, spanning the Danube in west Belgrade.
A Chinese agreement to finance a high-speed railway from Belgrade to Bucharest was one of around $10bn worth of investments, mainly in the energy and infrastructure sectors, signed during a China-Central and Eastern Europe summit this week. By funding the railway, Beijing hopes to establish a rapid connection from Greece’s Pireaus Port through the Balkans to the EU member states of Central Europe.
Energy Union, the flagship initiative to wean the EU off its dependence on Russian gas, faces regulatory, financial and political obstacles that can delay or prevent funding for vital infrastructure, the EU Task Force on Investment has warned.
The EU and European Investment Bank (EIB) have teamed up to launch a new investment programme for Europe – with energy, as well as transport, research, innovation and education, its key objects. A modest €21bn in public money is set to be multiplied up to a whopping €315bn in total investments over the next three years, pushing Europe toward that long-hoped for economic recovery. There is no dedicated share of the money for individual sectors or countries, yet first reactions from the energy community are enthusiastic.
The European Commission yesterday (25 November) unveiled the mechanism for its much-heralded €315 billion investment plan, revealing how a limited €21 billion of initial public money is intended to lift fifteen times as much in capital.