The prime minister will find it difficult to change the energy strategy because he is in danger of being replaced. On the eve of the next elections, the strategy kneels before politics – says Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
The prime minister is giving up for now
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lost the next episode of the political dispute with energy minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski, who received support from the ruling party. The value of his shares in the party falls due to further scandals involving his close surroundings. This is how his statement should be explained for the implementation of the nuclear project in Poland as a way to reduce emissions. The Prime Minister also admits that after social consultations lasting until January 15, the strategy may be corrected.
The dispute will last, but on the line of ministries, where it lasts at least since 2016, when the then deputy minister of development Jadwiga Emilewicz clashed with the deputy minister of energy Grzegorz Tobiszowski for the shape of the energy sector. This is why the current Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology stands in defense of entrepreneurs experiencing rising energy prices when the Ministry of Energy proposes compensation for households. Another aspect of this dispute was the cogeneration act. Emilewicz wanted to expand it so that it would not only support professional energy, but in practice, state-owned companies. However, this did not happen.
The president is fighting for support
The president added his opinion on the energy policy of Poland using a famous speech at the opening of the COP24 climate summit in Katowice. He said that Poland would need coal for 200 years and would not give up on it. It was not lightheartedness, but another charge on the votes of nationalists and libertarians, the previous example of which was the anti-Ukrainian rhetoric playing on the strings of the same electorates. This is also confirmed by a stronger statement by President Andrzej Duda on Barbórka. He said he would not agree that “someone would murder Polish mining” in the name of political correctness, which is dictated “by foreign interests”. The cherry on top would be the thesis that man does not affect the climate. However, this was missing. Nevertheless, the President’s words may herald a fight for the Eurosceptic faction who can get good results in the European Parliament elections in line with the European trend of populists’ growing importance.
Strategy versus elections
From the point of view of the ruling party, the adoption of the energy strategy in its present shape would give peace in Silesia before the elections to the European Parliament. The shift during the construction of the Polish nuclear power plant from 2030 to 2033 means that preparations for the implementation of this project can start even after the parliamentary elections in autumn 2019. The preparation and construction of the facility is estimated at 10-12 years, so theoretically it will be possible after the election win without worries in Silesia, which in the energy strategy is guaranteed to maintain the coal sector by 2030, when the share of coal in the mix is to fall to 60 percentage, but not by liquidation, but replenishing the production from this source with other, renewable ones.
If the government does not want to accelerate decarbonisation, then the market can do it. The low extraction efficiency in Poland means that the price of our coal is losing frequently with the imported. Coal-fired power plants may sign long-term contracts with Polish miners, but without an attractive price they will lose customers for suppliers independent of the state-owned companies. It is not yet known how to finance a nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, connecting electricity markets will not allow to block imports from abroad. Will politicians confirm this only after the election?