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Coal-fired power plants in Poland

Faced with an outdated energy system, the Polish government is determined to invest in climate damaging coal rather than focusing on renewable energy.

Background - The Polish energy market

Poland's energy market at the crossroads

Even to maintain current levels of energy generation, Poland needs to invest huge amounts into energy generation capacity (between EUR 41 billion and EUR 98,5 billion by 2020 [1]) and factually upgrade or redesign its entire energy system:

  • almost 85% of electricity is produced from coal
  • two thirds of the installed coal capacity is older than 30 years
  • almost 20% (7 gigawatt, more than the peak demand of energy in Scotland) of the current generation capacity have to be phased out by 2015

This is a perfect opportunity to invest in renewable energy, a move worthwhile the support of international financial institutions. However, Poland's plans look different...

Poland's plans for the energy sector

Poland's Energy Policy until 2030 (pdf), the main strategic document for the country's energy policy, makes clear that carbon intensive and climate damaging fossil fuels will remain the chief energy source for Poland:

  • The share of renewable energies is to reach at least 15% of energy total production by 2020, but then only increase by a ridiculous one percent until 2030.
  • At the same time nuclear energy is to reach 10% of final energy demand by 2030.
  • The remaining 74% will still come from CO2 intensive energy sources!


Poland plans to construct a capacity of 11 300 megawatts of coal power by 2020. This number dwarfs the currently installed capacity of renewable energy sources as the graph below shows. (Source: URE)


Involvement of international financial institutions

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) confirmed in meetings that it will not finance any coal project in Poland. (It does, however, support the Sostanj lignite power plant project in Slovenia.)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) on the other hand has already approved a loan to a coal-fired combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Bielsko Biala and

… participates in informal talks with Elektrownia Pólnoc Ltd. about a new coal-fired power plant in the North of Poland. The power plant would have a capacity of 2000 megawatts, nearly as much as all renewable energy sources in Poland combined.

Hands off coal, EIB, in Poland and elsewhere!

EIB investments in Polish coal would be a shameful disregard not only of the banks' responsibility for global and local impacts, but also of the EU's climate and energy package and energy roadmap 2050.

Investments in big-scale fossil fuels projects contradicts and impedes the quick and effective development of a renewables based economy:

  • If financial resources are being bound by fossil fuel projects, less money is available for green alternatives that often struggle for access to start up financing.
  • The electricity transmission networks of traditional energy pose disadvantages for renewable energy sources. Burdens for small producers to access the Polish energy grid bring further disincentives for renewables.

International financial institutions, including the EIB and the EBRD should not lend financial support to coal fired power plants.

 


Poland's energy leaders: a club of coal addicts?

Polish coal lobby aiming for Europe

The Polish government supports Central European Energy Partners (CEEP), a lobby effort of some of Poland's biggest energy companies, claiming to be the voice of central and eastern European countries.

CEEP lobbies the European Commission to not further tighten environmental policy and instead promote energy from coal. Coal should become the priority, with no emissions limits or CCS (carbon capture and storage) requirements.

Read more in an excellent piece covering the UK and Poland at QCEA's blog.

The plan to stick with coal is being pursued and promoted vigorously by Polish decision makers and the country's leaders in the energy sector:

  • Statements by the government and state-owned energy companies show their conviction that coal will be Poland's main energy source for years to come.
  • Coal is portrayed as Poland’s black gold, while the EU climate and energy package is considered a danger to Poland’s energy system.
  • A Polish lobby group (CEEP – see box on the right) pushes hard for the EU to promote coal. The Polish government supports the group.
  • The Polish government is trying to receive free CO2 emission allowances (2013 onwards) for its installed and planned coal power plants thus trying to ensure hidden coal subsidies.

 


Notes

1. Estimates by Professor Krzysztof Zmijewski, Secretary General of the Public Consultancy Board for the National Programme of Emission Reduction, and taken from Polska 2030, report prepared by the Strategic Advisory Body to the Prime Minister of Poland, (June 2009).

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Latest developments


 

Press release | May 16, 2014

This Friday, 16th May at 2.00 pm, petitions to Jan Kulczyk, appealing for his withdrawal from plans to build Elektrownia Północ (‘North’) Power Plant in Pomerania, Poland, will be passed on to Mr. Piotr Maciolek, chairman of Elektrownia Północ Power Plant company, owned by Kulczyk Investments Group. The petitions, signed by over 8200 people, will be delivered by an exceptional guest – Pinocchio.

coal, EU, Kulczyk, Poland
Blog entry | November 4, 2013

A promotional video for an upcoming climate protest in Warsaw draws attention to the negative influence that coal has on our health and that coal businesses will have on the global climate negotiations.

Blog entry | September 13, 2013

“Poland will continue to back coal (…) The future of Polish energy is in brown and black coal, as well as shale gas,” said on Tuesday Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, speaking at an event of the extractive industry.

Blog entry | August 26, 2013

On Monday Polish NGOs Client Earth, Workshop for all Beings, Greenpeace, WWF and local community group Eco-Kociewie petitioned the General Director of Environmental Protection to cancel the environmental impact assessment permit for the Polnoc Power Plant in northern Poland.

Campaign update | February 14, 2013

Local groups in Poland and Client Earth celebrate a successful court case against the construction permit for the huge Polnoc coal power plant in north Poland, which has been overruled on Thursday, February 14.

More details can be found in the news articles below and on the local campaign's website.

Polish green campaigners in court win over coal plant - Reuters

Publications

Bankwatch Mail | May 14, 2014

Local community and NGO pressure has been making things rather difficult of late for the largest planned new coal-fired power plant in Europe.

Bankwatch Mail | May 14, 2014

Environmental writer Roger Manser explains how the warnings of his 1993 book were ignored, and why ambitious green financing action is still a big need in central and eastern Europe.

Bankwatch Mail | November 11, 2013

Coal may still very much be king in the minds of the Polish government but, on the evidence of a ground-breaking campaign over the last year in Krakow, the seeds have been sown for a citizens' revolution that could redraw the Polish energy sector and improve health and quality of life for towns and cities all across the country. Alongside effective campaigning, EU money is playing a role in these developments, and has the potential to do a lot more.

Bankwatch Mail | November 11, 2013

Climate change is still, for a lot of people, an abstract, complex issue. It remains difficult to mobilise people against the coal industry as they are not always able to make the connection between fossil fuels, climate change and health problems such as asthma. The Cough4Coal campaign, to be formally launched during COP 19 in Warsaw, aims to invigorate and inform the debate on how we should plan for future sustainable and healthy energy provision.

Advocacy letter | October 10, 2013

This letter to Commissioner Janez Potocnik outlines serious concerns regarding the optional "Transitional National Plan" (TNP) derogation of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). The TNPs provide an opportunity for the coal industry and governments to pollute more compared to the general pollution limits set by the IED. In some cases using this derogation makes retrofitting plants economically viable, because thanks to the derogation they are given more time to meet the IED pollution limits.