It’s highly unlikely Turów will be operating after 2026, argues Polish think-tank - Instrat. Meanwhile, after a joint session of the 3 Polish parliamentary commissions, which were supposed to deal with the issue of Turów, it’s clear that the Polish government will stubbornly cling to the vision of the complex operating until 2044. The vision is unrealistic, but consistent with the miners’ expectations. It also looks like Poland won't reach out to its neighbours. By April, the 8th, a request will be sent to CJEU, in which all Czech arguments are supposed to be refuted.
A new report by Instrat think tank has been published, titled “Achieving the goal. Coal phase-out in the Polish power sector.” According to the authors, it's highly unlikely Turów will be operating after 2026.
In the report we read that PGE owned Turów power plant “obtained an extended mining permission until 2026. However, the decision was opposed not only by environmental organizations, but also the Czech Republic and Germany [...]. With such widespread resistance not only from the society but also from the governments of neighbouring countries, it should be recognized that the extension of lignite mining in Turów beyond 2026 is very unlikely. Therefore, it was assumed that all power units of the Turów Power Plant will stop operating in 2026. It was also assumed that power contracts expiring after 2025 will be sold to other producers. Two contracts until 2028 would be awarded to the Ostrołęka B Power Plant (extending the current contracts by 3 years), and the 15-year contract would be performed by Unit No. 10 at the Łagisza Power Plant (currently it has a contract until 2025)”.
RES systems were supplemented with energy storage facilities. Due to the probable shutdown of the Turów mine and power plant, a new 2300 MW pumped storage power plant has been proposed in the area of the open-pit mine (Węgrzyn et al., 2020). It would be commissioned in 2037, after 11 years of filling the reservoir with water from the surrounding rivers. Additionally, the model includes the development of battery energy storage facilities, which by 2030 would reach a power output of more than 1 GW (PGE itself plans 800 MW (PGE, 2020), up to 5 GW by 2040 (Biznesalert.pl, 2019)”.
On March, 30th, a joint committee session took place, with the Committee of Energy, Climate and State Assets, Environment Protection, Natural Resources, Forestry and Foreign affairs, regarding the Turów mine activity and Czech lawsuit in CJEU.
“Regrettably, at the very beginning we realized the lack of good will on part of the “coal coalition” of the MPs from Law and Justice, Confederation and Kukiz”15. For a long time, a participation of the public: EKO-UNIA Association, “Development YES- Open Pit Mines NO” and Greapeace Polska wasn’t sure, since the president of the Energy Commission, Marek Suski, in spite of an earlier registration, excluded those organizations from the list of participants. Thanks to common actions from MPs of The Green Party, Civic Platform, the Left and Polish People's Party, vote was given to representatives of EKO-UNIA Association and “Development YES- Open Pit Mines NO”. At the same time, in an inadmissible and openly hostile manner, by the votes of MPs from Law and Justice, Confederation and Kukiz’15, Greenpeace Polska was excluded from the session” - commented an MP from The Green Party, Małgorzata Tracz.
Jakub Gogolewski from “Development YES- Open Pit Mines NO” foundation was allowed to speak and he asked the commissions a series of questions. Whether the state energy system is capable to function in case the Turów power plant needs to be switched off. About the age structure of employment in the power plant and the mine, about the structural solutions for the companies that are now dependent on the Turów complex.
Whether, given the exacerbated conflict and the development of the dispute, wouldn't it be appropriate, as a gesture of good will, to put on hold the PGE's endeavours to expand the concession until 2044. - Gogolewski asked. He stressed that, according to plans, Turów was supposed to be handed to the Polish National Energy Security Agency (NABE). Unfortunately, none of the questions were answered.
Radosław Gawlik, from Eko-Unia, indicated a series of incongruences in the statements of the complex’s supporters. He pointed, among others, to the data presented by PGE, according to which, at present, 5,3 thousand people are employed there, and not, as per the information provided by an MP Zalewska, 80 thousand. Secondly, Turów provides 3,17% of electric energy, and not 8%.
Małgorzata Tracz considered the discussion to be lacking substance − it didn't give any insight to the debate about Turów. However, rise in tension in the international relations may be expected, since Poland is far from making an effort to defuse the conflict with the Czechs. - We have prepared a request and an answer to be presented before CJEU and we will send it by April, 8th. We have a series of arguments, which refute the Czech arguments - said Piotr Dziadzio, Polish Vice Minister of Climate.
On March, 18, Greenpeace activists ended their 30 days’ long protest in the Turów lignite mine in Bogatynia (Lower Silesia) during which they demanded, among others, coal phase-out by 2030.
5 days later, next protest began, this time, one organized by mine and plant supporters, those in favour of its further operations. Over one hundred and fifty cars blocked for two hours entrance to Czechia in Kopaczów, in Zgorzelec district, in an action organized under the slogan “Hands off Turów” and which wa supposed to show the miners’ opposition against the Czech lawsuit and the threat of mine shutdown.
“Miners’ protest is one of many actions in defence of the complex, engaged by local community, local authorities and MEPs”. Unfortunately, PGE executives, politicians and local authorities, instead of looking for a settlement with the Czechs and the possibility to take the heat out of the issue, alleging that “the Czechs demands are unfunded”, are luring the miners with an unrealistic vision of Turów working until 2044.
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Marshall Office prepared a project of Regional Just Transition Plan for Zgorzelec district, which was discussed on March, 23. There is close to zero chance that the European Commission will grant funds for a region that still hasn't set any date for coal phase-out. What is more, the project contained a series of errors and incongruences.
In the document, we read that “Given the role that the Turów complex fulfil in the national energy system (8% of electric power production, providing electricity to 300 thousand households)”. Meanwhile, in 2020 is was not more than 3.17% of electric energy produced in Poland this year.
On page 3 we read: “Lower Silesia, as one of the most highly industrialized regions in Poland (31% of gross value added generated by industry, which until now has based its development (just as the whole country) on high-emission energy system from fossil fuels (in Poland, 77% of energy production comes from coal) faces an enormous challenge of transformation and fitting into European Green Deal.”
In the meantime, in 2020, a share of generation capacity from brown or black coal power plants dropped from 70% to 65%. This is a result of construction of new gas and renewable sources’ entities. Lignite power plant generation capacity in 2020 amounted to 8.5 GW and its share in the National Electricity System dropped to 16.8% of generation capacity.
What is also missing is the information on which one of the blocks of the Turów power plant will be still working after power contracts will have expired in 2025, because it will impact the extraction in the opencast (and, thus, employment level) and so the employment in the Turów power station.