– The vision of Poland’s energy transformation will not necessarily appeal to all voters, which may hinder politicians’ declarations. On the occasion of the forum in Krynica, it is worth saying: winter is coming, and there is still no energy strategy – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
Mismatch in signals for the market
The Polish information policy on energy strategy remains heterogeneous. There is a contrast between the announcements of coal companies and the announcements before the climate summit, which will take place in Poland. On September eleventh, a conference organized by the Polish Mining Group will take place in the European Parliament, during which a different view on coal under the slogan #BeCoal will be presented. Our miners will convince Europe that coal is cool, and even – quoting press material – is a civilization value. It will be a message difficult to reconcile with what Poland will have to communicate at the COP24 climate summit in Katowice in December. COP24 is an opportunity for Poles to present a constructive vision of energy transformation, which must be associated with a gradual departure from coal, and thus with changes in Silesia, which will be difficult for mining trade unions. Meanwhile, the credibility of the Polish side will depend on its coalition’s ability to fight for support for post-mining regions, which the Polish government counts on.
In the corridors of the Economic Forum in Krynica you can hear that the update of the energy strategy of Poland will only take place after the elections scheduled for October 21. As a consequence, it is to be the same with the decision on the nuclear power plant, which I predicted in April.
However, even in November, there may be no settlements. The political factor holds back energy from fear of voters in Silesia, but also through differences of opinion in the government regarding nuclear energy. The energy minister is its supporter. The prime minister has not yet decided whether he will stand by him. If, however, there are no settlements in Poland, it will be decided by the European Commission, which obliged Member States to present their own decarbonisation plans by 2050 until the end of the year. If they are not, the Commission will write them, which, due to the growing ambition of reducing CO2 emissions and increasing the share of renewable sources, would probably mean a less favorable plan for Poland than the one that would write it on its own. Decarbonisation will inevitably change the economy of Silesia, which some trade unions do not agree to.
The last Mohican for coal
Time is not standing still. The last coal block in the Ostrołęka Power Plant is to be built in Poland. Block C already has an agreement between Enea and Energa from the consortium of GE Power and Alstom Power Systems for general contracting. The Energa General Assembly supported this idea. It is not known, however, whether the project will survive criticism after the local government elections. In the discussion about it, only critical analyzes appear so far, emphasizing the economic unfeasibility of this undertaking. Supporters of Ostrołęka C from the lobby in Krynica claim that due to the lack of decision on the Polish nuclear power plant, it must be created to remove the specter of the production gap. The supporters of renewable energy will be of a different opinion, as they will propose a cheaper alternative in the form of wind farms. The minister of energy has a different opinion. – Practically, it was the only power plant prepared for construction, so that you could immediately start construction. Looking at this and our energy needs, as well as the fact that the European Commission accepted that it will be the last coal-fired power plant, and also that this agreement with the miners is the answer to our plans for reducing emissions. The commission agreed that we would march with this reduction in a non-summer system, but a decade, We have a number of conditions for which we must pay attention. If we look at it, then we must look broadly at society, the state and our relations in the European Union so that we can invest now and in the future – said Krzysztof Tchorzewski during this year’s Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój, quoted by BiznesAlert.pl.
– Energa and Enea have signed an agreement with FIZAN Energia regarding its potential capital involvement in the project to build the Ostrołęka C power plant in the amount of up to PLN 1 billion – the companies said in the communications. “The Agreement defines the initial financing structure of the Project, where a total of PLN 2 billion includes the capital contributed to the company by Energa SA and Enea SA (PLN 1 billion), taking into account the funds contributed by Energa SA and Enea SA before the date of concluding a possible agreement investment with the fund, and a maximum of PLN 1 billion capital brought into the company by the fund, and the remaining amount will fall on the remaining forms of financing – we read in the Energa and Enea statements. This means that Poles are a step closer to financing the last coal block in history. In the corridors of the Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój, one can hear that during the conference there will be further news on this subject. It is not known if Ostrołęka C is in the period after the local government elections, when it will be possible to withdraw from it without political consequences in the region.
Winter is coming
This does not mean, however, that there will be no energy transformation. It will come and it will depend on the decision of politicians whether it will be on our terms. It’s time for discussions, and the changes in the nature of the Krynica-Zdrój area remind us of the December deadline for presenting the energy strategy.
I wrote in the past that energy sector companies have already made a turn in their strategies. They invest in renewable energy and gas, which are zero or less emission than coal. The first signals of such a turn also appeared at the Economic Forum in Krynica. In lobbying, representatives of the energy sector are convincing me that if it depended on them, then the strategy would already be presented. It would be the best from the point of view of market predictability and their business. However, the vision of energy transformation could disappoint union activists, so the government wants to start energy recovery from behind-the-scenes consultation with them. The return announced in 2017 may therefore come mildly and at the last minute, when politicians will stop being afraid of the revenge of voters.
Oil to the fire is added by information from Krynica that there is not one in circulation, but several energy strategies from which only one can win, which will go to the European Commission desk. Disagreements over the atom divide the government into several camps. In addition, there are different visions of the transformation of the energy and fuel sector. An interesting aspect of this difference of opinion was the fact that only representatives of the first concern took part in the discussion on the merger of Orlen and Krynica in Krynica, and the representative of the second watched the discussion from the room.
Regardless of Polish hell, according to the annex to the European Commission’s communication on the state of the Energy Union of 18 November 2015 (COM (2015) 572 final), each Member State should develop a National Energy and Climate Plan as part of the management of the Energy Union. Time is running out. If we do not write the energy policy ourselves, Brussels will do it for us. Winter is coming and energy strategy is still missing.