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Are we to expect a return to coal? What is the future of the Polish energy industry? – conclusions from the debate of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers



Warsaw, 8 June 2022 

 

Are we to expect a return to coal? What is the future of the Polish energy industry? – conclusions from the debate of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers

Are we to expect a return to coal? What is the future of the Polish energy industry? – this was the topic of the debate “Energy Transition – an Opportunity or a Threat to the Polish Economy” organised by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers (ZPP). The participants included the Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of State Assets, Piotr Pyzik.

Other discussion participants were a journalist of Energetyka24.com, Daniel Czyżewski, the Chief Energy Technology Specialist at ZPP, Włodzimierz Ehrenhalt, and the moderator – Dominika Taranko, a director of the ZPP Energy Forum. The starting point for their conversation was the next edition of the ZPP report prepared by Włodzimierz Ehrenhalt on the energy transition and the accompanying opportunities and threats.

Dominika Taranko started the debate by noting that the energy industry has recently ceased to be an exclusively economic or political subject, and has also begun to concern individual consumers and businesses. “The events that will happen in Poland in the coming years will concern everybody, including Polish companies. Hence the idea to hold a discussion as part of the ZPP Energy Forum on the pragmatic, realistic measures we need to take in order to at least approach the climate targets for 2030 and 2050,” she said.

“Today’s debate is also intended to be a contribution to the discussion on the next ZPP report, published since 2019. In the latest document, we have compiled our findings for the previous year. Despite the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine and our geopolitical situation noticeably changed, we have decided to present the report and discuss it in order to establish the setting for the conversation about energy that we, as ZPP, want to have,” added Dominika Taranko.

Włodzimierz Ehrenhalt explained that the report shows what can happen if we do not base Polish production on green energy. “Green energy is the foundation of a pro-export economy. In the report, I point out that if we do not produce it, we will not be able to sell our goods to EU countries – from yoghurts, through locomotives, furniture, to automotive parts. That is why today the transition to green energy is more important than all the other commitments we have,” he said.

As emphasised by the Chief Energy Technology Specialist, the next twenty years will determine the economic position of the European Union in the global economy. According to him, full implementation of the Fit for 55 package – which envisages reducing net CO2 emissions by at least 55% (compared to 1990) by 2030 – in Polish conditions is not possible. That is why we need a discussion at European level that takes account of the circumstances and past events in Poland – in other words, the Polish transition process should take account of the specific historical conditions related to the position of coal in our economy.

In the opinion of Włodzimierz Ehrenhalt, decision-makers in the energy sector should have two objectives for the coming years: ensuring energy supply at a level which will enable the state to function on its own resources as it did so far and ensuring the cheapest possible energy supply from outside. “This is a political task because we have to think carefully about where this energy will be the cheapest and operate wisely to obtain it,” said Ehrenhalt.

Piotr Pyzik from the Ministry of State Assets admitted that he – also a Silesian – recognises transition as a topic concerning not only energy but also civilisation. “Mining is more than just energy, it is also culture and customs. I would like this phenomenon to be noticed from Warsaw’s perspective,” he said.

According to the Minister, while designing the transition we must not forget that its goal should be, among other things, to keep the competitiveness of the Polish, and consequently European, economy at the highest possible level. “This is currently the basis of our activities. We also can’t deny that changing the climate is just as important,” he said.

As Piotr Pyzik pointed out, the solutions for the transition to green energy should, however, be as prudent, rational and sensible as possible. “It should not happen that more energy is used to manufacture a wind turbine than it will produce in its entire lifetime,” he added. “When talking about green energy one simply has to be realistic,” he emphasised and added that, as much as we want to, we will not be able to erase coal from the Polish energy landscape so soon. “Primarily because we don’t have anything to replace it with. At present, we simply need coal,” he continued.

Daniel Czyżewski from Energetyka24.com agreed with this thesis. However, the journalist drew attention to the issue of whether the need to switch to green energy is understandable to the majority of the population. “The question that comes to my mind is whether everyone is also able to bear the possible costs associated with the transition,” he said.

“I can certainly agree that the energy transition –together with the full package of legislation, including a European Green Deal – is a civilisational change, indeed already visibly established in culture. However, I wonder if everyone realises how big of a change this will be for all of us,” he said.

Full recording of the debate will be available soon on ZPP social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube.

Meanwhile, the full report by Włodzimierz Ehrenhalt is available at: https://zpp.net.pl/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/08.06.2022-Raport-ZPP-Transformacja-Energetyczna-szansa-czy-zagrozenie-dla-polskiej-gospodarki.pdf

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The debate “”Energy Transition – an Opportunity or a Threat to the Polish Economy” was held as part of the ZPP Energy Forum a platform within which the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers focuses all its activities in the field of energy. Details on its operation can be found on the website at: https://zpp.net.pl/forum-energetyczne-zpp/.

If you have any questions or would like to cooperate, please contact the Director of the Forum, Dominika Taranko – d.taranko@zpp.net.pl.

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