PRESS RELEASE

The initially delayed operation of a new 496-MW power plant unit in Turow (Poland) is supposed to start today. The unit will benefit from EU money via Polish capacity mechanisms, which are often used as backdoor subsidies for unviable economic investments. 

Turow coal mine, sharing the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, has been operating illegally for the last year, violating the EU law and putting local communities at risk of serious water scarcity. Even so, yesterday the Polish government authorised mining operations to continue until 2044. 

All power production from coal in the EU must stop by 2030 for at least two obvious reasons. One, continuing to use coal, a highly polluting fossil fuel, will make the Paris Agreement objective extremely hard to reach. Second, power production from coal is a killing and dying business. It is not economically viable and deteriorates communities’ lives polluting the air, water, soil. 

Prolonging the coal mining activities until 2044 and adding a new lignite power unit to start operating now, which is also to be paid from citizens’ pockets, is outrageous,” said Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe’s Senior Energy Policy Coordinator, Elif Gündüzyeli.

Turow mine’s numerous violations of European law were confirmed by the European Commission, yet the Commission has so far refrained from starting an infringement process against the Polish government, despite neighbouring Member States’ objections to the mining activities prolongation. 

The city of Brussels saw a massive advertisement deployment this week with messages against the European Green Deal, sponsored by the Polish company, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE). 

The company had announced becoming climate neutral by 2050 while showing clear intentions to continue its coal business until at least 2044. PGE plans to transfer its coal assets to the state, as coal power production gets too expensive for the company, once again as a burden on the citizens’ shoulders.

Turow coal mine expansion violates local communities basic rights and kills any hope of a climate-safe future. It is about time for the European Commission to hold the Polish authorities accountable for the breaches in the implementation of EU law by joining the Czech Republic in the Court case, and to immediately start an infringement procedure against Poland,” added Elif Gündüzyeli.

Notes:

  1. People losing access to water because of coal mining in Turow: https://www.greenpeace.org/czech/clanek/5957/people-losing-water-due-to-coal-mining-in-poland-brought-petition-to-european-parliament/

  2. The new unit was supposed to be operational in December 2020 according to the capacity market obligation, whereas due to delays, a settlement between PGE and the contractors was achieved to have the unit online as of today 30 April 2021: https://cleanerenergy.pl/2021/02/25/blok-w-turowie-zostanie-oddany-6-miesiecy-pozniej-jest-ugoda/#:~:text=Pod%20koniec%20lipca%202020%20r,eksploatacji%2031%20pa%C5%BAdziernika%202020%20roku

  3. PGE might have to pay a penalty due to the delay in the operation of the new unit: https://www.wnp.pl/energetyka/blok-energetyczny-w-turowie-wejdzie-pozniej-na-rynek-mocy-to-bedzie-kosztowac,419118.html 

  4. In 2018, the first auction of the Polish capacity markets took place where Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) was granted contracts for some units of the Turow coal plant – including the new one to go online today 30 April. More details about the 2018 auction of Polish capacity mechanisms: https://caneurope.org/first-auction-of-polish-capacity-mechanisms-sinks-billions-of-euros-into-subsidising-the-country-s-addiction-to-coal/ 

  5. Polish Ministry of Environment’s decision to extend the due date of the Turow mine’s operational license until 2044 (April 29): https://www.gov.pl/web/klimat/koncesja-na-wydobycie-wegla-przez-kopalnie-turow-przedluzona 

  6. PGE’s 2050 climate neutrality announcement: https://www.gkpge.pl/press-center/press-releases/corporate/strategia-grupy-pge-neutralnosc-klimatyczna-w-2050-roku 

  7. PGE plans to leave its coal assets to a state enterprise when a decision is achieved by the government, as the EU ETS prices make it too expensive for the company to operate coal plants: https://www.argusmedia.com/news/2198913-pge-expects-coal-carveout-as-carbon-price-bites#.YGIjAAjCee0.twitter 

  8. The Polish government is looking to secure state aid to support the country’s coal mining enterprises as well as the restructuring of the energy sector: https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/poland-goes-all-out-on-coal-rescue-against-eus-higher-climate-goal/ 

  9. European Commission’s opinion on Turow mine’s EU law breaches, brought up to court by the Czech Republic: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_2452 

  10. For more information on the campaign to stop Turow coal mine’s expansion, supported by Polish, Czech and German communities and NGOs: https://stopturow.com/en.php 

ENDS

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Contact: 

Masha Perović, Southeast Europe Communications Coordinator, masha@caneurope.org m: +381638411566

Elif Gunduzyeli, Senior Coal Policy Coordinator, elif@caneurope.org