Can an economic think tank from outside Poland employing a few people blow up the Polish capacity market on which the energy security of Poland is now relying? – wonders Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
Tempus Energy has objected in the EU court the support for Poland’s electricity sector with the capacity market. Earlier on it has objected to the support with the capacity market in Great Britain. The result was the suspension of payment of support, threatening the energy security of the British Isles.
Tempus is an interesting company whose representatives come from the UK. Its founder is Sara Louise Bell. She heads Tempus Energy and Tempus Energy Technology. She works at Tempus Energy Sweden AB together with Molly Wadhams Webb from the UK and Jonas Karl Norrman from Sweden. Interestingly, Tempus Energy Technology also employs Garry MacDonald Sharp at the position of non-executive director. He had at least five predecessors in the year between 2015 and 2016.
The financial reports disclose information about the total employment in individual companies: Tempus Energy – 1 (Bell), Tempus Energy Technology – 3 (Bell, MacDonald Sharp, Wadhams Webb), Tempus Energy Germany (Rachel Berryman), Tempus Energy Sweden AB – 3 (Bell, Wadhams Webb, Mona Marianne Forsberg from Australia). Where did an Australian employee come from? Tempus deals in demand side reduction technology. It is developing it together with the Australian Origin Energy that has a 2880 MW coal-fired power plant, the biggest in the Land Down Under. It intends to promote this technology also in Poland “as long as the DSR market opportunity is not destroyed” – as it informs on its website.
The company authorities of Tempus Energy have experience in scientific work, consulting on capital markets as well as in work in think tanks and organisations promoting green technologies. Its advisory board includes Baroness Bryony Worthington, a life peer in the House of Lords. She helped in the development of the legal climate framework in the UK, launched the Sandbag Climate Campaign dedicated to tightening the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. The Baroness is also at the head of the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the prominent environmental NGOs in Europe. Sara Louise Bell is on the high-ranking expert board of ECF.
Initially, Tempus was acquiring funds from private investors. In the British public debate, a question was raised as to the source of its funding for the first court challenge in 2014. Typically such a proceeding costs dozens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. So far only Greenpeace has admitted on the pages of the Financial Times to the financing of the legal challenges by this entity. The rest of the sponsors remain unknown due to the financial reporting standards for smaller entities in the UK that do not have to report the results, profits or losses of the whole group. The GMB Union appealed to Tempus “to come clean on who its secret financial backers are”. In vain. At the same time, the win in court on the UK’s capacity market case has threatened the generating base ensuring the energy security. An appeal case is in progress concerning the approval of this form of state aid.
The official information by the company states that Tempus makes its money on the instability of the grid with its demand peaks and valleys. Thus, a capacity market would threaten its interests. For this reason, a bizarre entity bordering on a think tank and a technology company (in its reports it informs about research and scientific activities) is able to threaten the security of energy supply in several European countries, like the UK, and perhaps soon also in Poland. The stability of supply by the existing and planned coal-fired units depends on the support from the capacity market. The first three capacity market auctions are already completed. If the court blocks this mechanism in Poland, the companies will have to refund the aid and the certainty of supply by sources it supports will become questionable.
Tempus has lodged a challenge in the European Court of Justice against the Polish capacity market. The Court is yet to respond if it will review the case. The company comes up with the argument that it feels excluded from the capacity market auctions and for this reason challenges the Commission’s decision and requires a slow proceeding allowing the topic to be discussed once again. If every case would have to be investigated as for long as Tempus Energy wishes, the European Commission would have to employ extra lawyers. If the court rules that the Commission should conduct an investigation, it may turn out that a small company employing a few people will influence the energy policy of our country. Will the goal be to promote its services in Poland? Do really the economic interests of Tempus in Poland are threatened by the capacity market? Does this company actually have any in Poland at all? When work was going on concerning the Polish capacity market in 2018, Tempus Energy Germany that could be interested in this mechanism did not yet exist.
Regardless of whether Tempus wants to fight against the capacity market to promote its technology or its motives are ideological or related to its scientific work, its activities raise doubts. So far Tempus has not responded to the questions asked by BiznesAlert.pl.