“Poland needs a gradual, reasonable, methodical transition to other sources of power generation, we inherited our coal power industry from communism, and we need knowledge, funds and years to become a climate neutral country in three decades. We are participating in this marathon. Over the past eight years, we have spent PLN 16 billion on investments in distribution networks,” says Paweł Szczeszek, CEO of Tauron, in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
Where is Tauron now on the trajectory of what is happening in the energy industry?
We’ve been on the positive for 8 years. It is obvious to all keen observers of the industry that the last eight years have been an unprecedented time of development for the entire industry. It may even be the best time in the history of the post-war energy industry. The facts speak for themselves – Tauron has spent PLN 16 billion over the past eight years on investments in distribution networks, while under previous governments investments totaled at about PLN billion a year, for example in 2010 and 2011. Also, Tauron connected to the network almost 400 thousand photovoltaic installations – this is a third of all installations in the country. There is no need to comment about these numbers, they show how much we have achieved during this time.
Is the green transition the most important thing?
The most important thing is reason, sticking to the facts, acting in energy realities, and not having our heads in the clouds. I want to be very clear about this – there is no turning back from renewable energy sources, but we must work to reconcile interests that are at odds with each other. At Tauron we have increased the share of green energy in the mix by 200% over the past 8 years. This is due to the consistent implementation of investments. Under construction is one of the largest photovoltaic farms in Poland, a colossus with a capacity of 100 MW in Mysłowice. We also systematically develop wind farms and you can see those belonging to us in: Piotrków, Majewo, Gołdap, Inowrocław, Wick. In our network development model, we try to take care of the uniform development of the south of Poland, we invest not only in urban areas, but also far from large cities. Our vision is holistic, synthetic and harmonizes the needs of local and metropolitan Poland.
Is the energy crisis over?
To a large extent, yes. This is behind us and by this I mean that which resulted from Russia’s invasion on Ukraine. We got through it without major issues thanks to the historical support of the Polish government. Poles in the era of the energy crisis have stable access to energy at socially acceptable prices. If it were not for the solutions introduced by our government, the statistical electricity bill of a Polish family living in a house would be higher today by even five thousand zlotys. The freezing of prices at the level of those from 2022 and the introduction of the so-called maximum price calmed both our customers and the entire energy industry in the country. It’s a big success.
Does traditional energy come second to your renewable energy plans?
It is impossible to carry out such a profound energy transformation as ours without a holistic vision, without a holistic investment project. For us, as a large energy company that implements ambitious development projects, the network remains the basis. Tauron invests heavily in distribution, i.e. in poles, wires, cables, transformer stations or main power points. Without investments in the grid, the energy transition will not succeed. Today, a strong distribution network is the basis of Poland’s energy security.
Should distribution companies be excluded from energy groups?
Absolutely not. This is a completely irresponsible idea. In the vast majority of European countries, we have integrated companies, I do not understand why it should be different in Poland. First, it would weaken, in the case of our company, Silesia and the whole region. Tauron employs 20,000 workers in the south of Poland, the proposed changes mean instability for at least half of them. That means 10,000 workers may be in trouble if the very liberal political powers, which treat privatization as a religion, will have a say in Poland’s energy industry. Secondly, it means trouble for customers, because the amount of their bills would be decided by the free market and these would be many times higher.
As always, energy has become an election issue…
An industry like ours needs peace of mind, long-term sensible planning and thoughtful investments. Today we should not wage an internal energy war, this is like giving a political favor to Moscow. The decisions of the CJEU and the Provincial Administrative Court on Turów are puzzling. These measures affect the energy security of Poland, because this power plant produces 7% of electricity in the country. The decision on Turów shows the elites in Brussels have nefarious intentions. Extremely dangerous tools in the fight against the energy industry in Poland are the package known as Fit for 55 and the tightening of the policy of the ETS system that was not suspended even during the energy crisis caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Poland needs a gradual, reasonable, methodical transition to other sources of power generation, we inherited our coal power industry from communism, and we need knowledge, funds and years to become a climate neutral country in three decades.