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29 kwietnia 2021
#stopturow
 

PGE myths vs reality

In late April 2020 Polish Energy Group (PGE), the owner of the Turów mine launched an aggressive campaign "Green Deal, not a predatory transformation". PGE bought a number of sponsored articles in the Polish and foreign press, and billboards in Brussels. On its website, the company explains that they want to get attention of Brussels decision makers. The problem is that the information presented by PGE are false. They mislead decision makers and public opinion abroad. Below is a table responding to PGE's fake news with facts and context.

What does PGE say?1

80,000 Polish citizens will lose their livelihoods in case of shutdown of the Turów complex.

Facts

In April 2021, 3,536 people were employed
at the Turów lignite mine and power plant2.


By 2026 - 306 people currently employed at the Turów mine and plant complex will reach retirement age3.

By 2030 - 884 people or ¼ of those currently employed at the Turów complex will reach retirement age.

What does PGE say?1

Mine’s closure would lead to the downfall of the entire region.

Facts

Population of Zgorzelecki Poviat at the end of 2019: 89, 200 people.

Up to 6% of Zgorzelec Poviat inhabitants  are employed at the Turów complex and the companies that depend on its functioning4.


The construction of solar and wind farms, together with small biomass plants together with a pumped storage power plant in Lower Silesia is an economically and technically feasible alternative to the Turów mine and plant complex and can generate between 4522 and 7830 jobs5.


The unemployment rate for Zgorzelec poviat was below 6.4% in 2020, above the unemployment rate in Lower Silesia and reflected the average unemployment rate in Poland6.

In the last 23 years employment at the Turów mine decreased by 62% and at the Turów plant it fell by 22% in 6 years7.

What does PGE say?1

Turów power plant provides 7% of electricity consumed in Poland.

Facts

In 2020, Turów power plant provided a little over 3% of electricity consumed in Poland. In 2019 − less than 3%8.

What does PGE say?1

“A fair Green Deal, not a predatory transition”9.

Facts

PGE’s desire to get an extension to Turow’s licence to 2044 would deprive the region of the opportunity to develop and transition using the vast range of available EU, national level and private funding sources.

The European Commission has confirmed that the Bogatynia region will not receive funds from the Just Transition Fund if it does not declare a move away from coal in this decade10. Poland is supposed to be the biggest beneficiary of the JTF and get about 3.5 billion euros11.

What does PGE say?1

“The sudden closure of the Turów mine will lead to collapse in many terms”

Facts

PGE does not present any scenarios for the closure of Turów mine and power plant by 2026 or 2030. The company stubbornly tries to obtain a mining licence until 2044.


There is already a legal precedent from a Czech owned Jänschwalde lignite mine in Brandenburg which was ordered to close from September 2019 due to a high administrative court decision. The mine supplied a much bigger 2.3 GW power plant and resumed operation six months later in February 202012. Turów mine can also stop operations and then resume them after it has fulfilled the EU legal requirements if the CJEU decision requires that.


The National Energy System can function without any problems without Turów after 2026. Extraction of lignite in Turów beyond 2026 is unlikely13.

What does PGE say?1

In commencing the transformation PGE has already adopted a new strategy that will enable it to achieve 50 percent share of renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030.

Facts

Coal assets owned by PGE will be transferred to the new state-owned National Energy Security Agency (NABE) to allow PGE’s access to financing for future investments in natural gas and renewable energy14. Thus the implementation of PGE strategy and its investments in RES require state aid and approval from the EU Commission - both beyond PGE control. Moreover, the EC will have to agree to Turów mine and plant being transferred to NABE and that might be conditioned on Turów mine and plant earlier closure dates.

What does PGE say?1

The concession confirms the mine’s operation is compliant to Polish and European law.

Facts

On 17th of December The European Commission stated that Poland has committed some of the infringements of EU law by extending the mine’s licence15.

What does PGE say?1

Cross-border consultations between Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany lasted several years

Facts

The European Commission considers that the Polish authorities have incorrectly applied the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (2011/92/EU) and access to information Directive (2003/4/EC), as regards information to the public and Member States involved in transboundary consultations, access to justice, as well as the principle of loyal cooperation enshrined in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU)16.

What does PGE say?1

The closure of the mine would result in further losses of around 13.5 bln PLN.

Facts

Operation of Turow mine and power plant would be at least 65 bln PLN more expensive than the alternative RES investment17.

The health and environmental benefits resulting from avoided GHG emissions and harmful pollutants such as mercury, heavy metals, PM10 and PM2,5 dust as well as SO2 and NOx are an additional benefit.

What does PGE say?1

Interim measures as a provisional cessation of the Turów mine operations until the conflict has been resolved would result in the threat to the Polish electricity system

Facts

PGE wrongfully equates the temporary stop of operation at the Turow mine with permanent closure of the mine and power plant.

What does PGE say?1

PGE installs an underground wall, which is tight like the already existing wall near river Neiße

Facts

Investigation of Saxony authorithies proves, that Neiße wall isn’t tight either

Footnotes

[1] https://www.gkpge.pl/Press-Center/press-releases/corporate/miedzynarodowa-kampania-przeciwko-polskiej-kopalni-zagrozeniem-dla-europejskiego-zielonego-ladu#  
https://www.politico.eu/sponsored-content/the-green-deal-should-be-just-and-based-on-solidarity/

[2] http://orka2.sejm.gov.pl/INT9.nsf/klucz/ATTBZZFTC/%24FILE/i21546-o1.pdf

[3] http://orka2.sejm.gov.pl/INT9.nsf/klucz/ATTBZZFTC/%24FILE/i21546-o1.pdf

[4] Data from Territorial Just Transition Plan of Lower Silesia 2021-2030 -  Zgorzelec subregion („Terytorialny Plan Sprawiedliwej Transformacji dla Województwa Dolnośląskiego 2021-2030 – Powiat Zgorzelecki”)

[5] https://kike.org.pl/strategia-transformacji-elektrowni-i-kopalni-w-turowie-raport-kike/

[6] At the end of February 2021 the unemployment rate in Zgorzelec poviat stood at 6,2 % compared to 5,9% for Lower Silesia and 6,5% in Poland

[7] https://zgorzelec.praca.gov.pl/documents/1181997/14489571/Stopa%20Bezrobocia%202021/ad9703ad-c6c5-4147-9be3-8963699e4a2b?t=1615289669000

[8]  Based on data from:   
https://www.pse.pl/dane-systemowe/funkcjonowanie-kse/raporty-dobowe-z-pracy-kse/generacja-mocy-jednostek-wytworczych
https://www.pse.pl/dane-systemowe/funkcjonowanie-kse/raporty-roczne-z-funkcjonowania-kse-za-rok/raporty-za-rok-2020
https://transparency.entsoe.eu/load-domain/r2/totalLoadR2/show

[9] PGE claims that the Czech accusations can lead to what it calls a predatory transition while desperately trying not to talk about transition scenarios. In fact neither PGE nor the Polish government have presented transition studies that would assume the closure of Turow power plant and mine complex until 2026 or 2030 thus it is impossible to compare the alternative scenarios together with their strengths and weaknesses. PGE by pushing for continued operation of the Turow complex until 2044 and actively pursuing a mining licence until that date is thus effectively jeopardising the smooth, swift, just and supported transition away from lignite mining and combustion supported from a broad variety of EU, national and regional level sources as well as investments of individuals and businesses.

[10] https://notesfrompoland.com/2021/02/25/unprecedented-czech-legal-challenge-to-polish-coal-mine-could-be-catastrophic-for-poland/

[11] https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/major-eastern-german-lignite-mine-resumes-operation
[12]https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/1968122-east-german-lignite-mine-ordered-to-shut-down  

[13] http://instrat.pl/en/coal-phase-out/

[14] Until very recently over 95% of investments of PGE in the generation segment has been going to the coal and lignite mines and power plants as opposed to 3% to the renewable energy business. With the construction of  2 new hard coal units at Opole power plant (900MWe each) and a new unit at Turow power plant PGE and opting for modernising the majority of its coal and lignite units to BAT/BREF requirements PGE opted for investments in continued operation of its coal and lignite power plants at the expense of investments into the clean energy system of the future thus effectively stalling the transition in Poland for the last 10 years.

[15] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2452

[16] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2452

[17] RES investment in the Lower Silesia Voivodeship that would allow the Polish electricity grid to function without problems after 2026 and generate more workplaces than those that Turow complex currently provides. The majority of costs that PGE is calculating result from the cost of investment into the new lignite unit that is being synchronized with the Polish grid in April 2021 and the costs of renovation of the Turow units to meet BAT/BREF requirements which were all bad investments decisions on the PGE side and the company is receiving payment from the capacity market from 2021 onwards which with Turow closure would be an additional saving for the Polish budget and the Polish citizens.

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