Poland keeps coal phase-out target as top utility PGE seeks quicker exit

Poland is not planning a quicker end to using coal, the government said on Wednesday (30 August), criticising state-controlled utility PGE for bringing forward its carbon neutrality target by a decade to 2040. Under a pact the government signed with trade unions, Poland plans to keep mining coal until 2049. PGE, Poland’s biggest power utility, said on Tuesday it is seeking a faster exit as it bets on renewable energy. “We will be the first energy company in Poland to achieve climate neutrality as early as 2040, i.e. 10 years earlier than planned,” the group said in a statement.

PGE’s strategy update came in “response to the new geopolitical and economic situation across Europe” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as “the changing role of electricity, which is becoming the fuel of the future and a key element in the security and sovereignty of European countries,” the group added.

While coal generates some 70% of Poland’s electricity, experts say using the fuel in power generation is not sustainable in the long run amid rising costs and the European Union’s green climate policies.

However, the government does not share the same objectives.

“The Polish government’s energy policy implemented by the Ministry of State Assets does not assume acceleration of the coal phase-out,” the ministry said in a statement, commenting on PGE’s strategy update.

PGE will have to shoulder 26 billion zloty (€5.8bn) of carbon emission costs this year and needs to speed up its transformation to reduce the burden and remain competitive, Chief Executive Wojciech Dąbrowski told Polish public radio on Wednesday.

“The Ministry of State Assets expects that the assumptions of the government’s energy policy will be implemented in practice by all energy companies with State Treasury shareholding, which will also be reflected in their strategies and investment activities,” the ministry said.

Poland clarifies position on coal phase-out, it is still 2049

The Polish government has confirmed it still intends to produce energy from coal until 2049 despite signing a declaration at COP26 that some hoped meant Warsaw would part with the fossil fuel earlier.