Press release by the Ecological Association EKO-UNIA
Outstanding experts met to discuss energy perspectives for Poland, and especially energy and climate transition of Lower Silesia in the context of the plans to expand the region’s biggest open-pit lignite mine and power plant in Turów.
Referring to social barriers of decarbonisation of economy, Izabela Zygmunt of Bankwatch CEE/Polish Green Network said*:
“Shifting from coal nowadays is something different than closing mines back in the 1990s. Then, it was frequently a social tragedy caused by top-down decisions, while nowadays it can be a developmental impulse. Just transition is now a financial priority for the European Union, with significant funding allocated to regions who shift away from coal. There is also available know-how about concerning planning and management of this process to avoid negative social impact. I’m certain that taking this opportunity is not a worse choice than sticking to the status quo”.
Production of energy from coal is not only a threat to the climate, it involves also the looming risk of profitability break-down in the coal energy industry due to increasing prices of CO2 emissions allowances. Prof. dr hab. inż. Jan Popczyk, Silesian University of Technology added:
“On the 23rd November, right before COP24, the Ministry of Energy presented the draft Polish Energy Policy until 2040 which makes one ask: what is it all about? Why, the extensive plans of investments in fossil fuels energy industry, including nuclear energy industry, cannot be reasonably reconciled with the objectives of COP24 hosted by Poland. How will Poland build its reliability in the global community during COP24? But there is also another reflection: this is the time when economic crisis and defence of particular group interests in the Polish electric energy industry starts to result in Poland’s lagging behind the world”.
dr Maciej Zathey, director of the Institute for Territorial Development, stressed that comprehensive and universal approach is needed in planning of the transformation: “Among the challenges of the modern civilisation, the deteriorating condition of the natural environment and increasing energy consumption are the leading problems, which are also strongly correlated. These global challenges can be observed in Lower Silesia, too. Nowadays it is necessary to consider these aspects in rational territorial management, as territory is another overexploited resource. Efficient energy use should be considered in the context of whole settlement structures, and not only for particular buildings or vehicles. Energy transition policy requires a broader regional perspective, not only local approach. Therefore, the role of regions should be enhanced in Poland”.
Dr inż. Wojciech Myślecki of Wrocław University of Technology and Smart Power Grids Polska Consortium spoke of perspectives for the Polish energy industry. He is convinced that there is no way back from such processes as withdrawing coal and transition from centralised energy industry to optimised energy use, renewable and distributed sources of energy. He highlighted that: “in its future energy strategy, Poland should take advantage of its current ‘energy underdevelopment’ and take several stages in one leap by using the latest technological solutions”.
Dr. Myślecki also responded directly to the question by prof. Popczyk whether the government’s Energy Policy 2040 (PEP2040) presented several days before the World Climate Summit COP24 in Katowice was a provocation, sign of stupidity or something else?
Dr Myślecki, graduate of Wrocław University of Technology and who specialist in electric energy, declared that the document had been developed in a rush, that was a sign of chaos in energy policies and that he had had nothing to do with it, as he had warned the Prime Minister and advised other steps… He added that PEP2040 was an ad hoc, bad document to be changed anyway.
Meanwhile dr inż. Krzysztof Bodzek pointed out that “construction of a new unit of Turów power plant was a mistake and the investment itself will never become profitable, as stranded costs of the project will be enormous. Since the new unit of Turów power plant is unnecessary and costly in itself, the plans to expand Turów open pit should be waived as soon as possible”.
These investments generate costs instead of profits even now. Other external costs which should not be forgotten, concern health issues mentioned by mgr inż. Dominika Mucha of Warsaw University of Technology: “Studies have shown that only in 2017 operations of Turów mine and power plant contributed to 81 premature deaths in Poland. But this is not all. According to the researchers the same power plant and mine contributed to premature death of 32 people in the Czech Republic, 133 people in Germany and, interestingly, 13 people in Lithuania, total of 289 in Europe”.
*Video-report of the conference titled “Energy alternative to lignite in Lower Silesia”.
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