At COP24 in Katowice Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski confirms construction of Ostrołęka C power plant to be against Poland's economic and environmental interest. He claims, however, that constructing of this power plant is required for cooperation with the Baltic states. Stop Ostrołęka C coalition comments: no international documents support it.

On 4 December, during the UN COP24 climate summit held in Katowice, Poland’s Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski confirmed what social organisations have been reporting for over a year - the construction of Ostrołęka C coal-fired power plant is against Poland’s interest. Now the minister justifies it with the necessity of cooperation with the European Union and the Baltic States and by the need to "meet deadlines".

Experts warn that we have only 12 years to take real action to stop catastrophic climate change. By 2050 we must completely stop burning coal, and Poland should abandon this fuel between 2025 and 2030. These are perhaps the most important deadlines in the history of mankind, and they should absolutely apply to all of us, including the Ministry of Energy. How can the construction of Ostrołęka C, which would emit 6 million tons of CO2 annually until 2063, be in line with them? - asks Diana Maciąga, Climate Coordinator at the Association Workshop for All Beings.

Ostrołęka, it is connected with our deadlines related to the obligations of synchronization of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the European Union. And here we are securing one gigawatt, hence the fact that this power plant was prepared, has had 4 years of preparation behind it, which means that it can be commissioned more quickly. And the goal set for the synchronisation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is 2025. We still have to build a seabed cable which we will have to reserve, and Poland will have to secure another gigawatt. There are certain objectives which, not necessarily from the point of view of our interest and ecological and economic interests, would be the most important for us, but we do not necessarily benefit from this, but this is a certain European solidarity. Without us, without Finland, without Sweden, the Baltic States would not be able to synchronise with the European Union - said Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski, December 4, 2018, in the Polish Pavilion at COP24.

The Ministry of Energy have not presented any strategic document which would confirm that the Ostrołęka C power plant is an important element in the synchronization of the Baltic States' power systems with Continental Europe - neither documents of the European Commission, nor the Polish Power Grid or the Lithuanian operator LitGrid mention it.

The Minister's words prove that he is well aware of the risks resulting from the construction of Ostrołęka C, such as its deep unviability, threat to public health, and energy safety and independence of Poland. If so, whose interests does Krzysztof Tchórzewski represent? The coal lobby or all of us who are exposed to dramatic increase in electricity prices and the disastrous effects of climate change?

To the best of our knowledge, a document stating that Ostrołęka C is necessary for synchronisation with the Baltic states simply does not exist. When other arguments have failed, Minister Tchórzewski reaches for a new, irrational justification for this coal project. Claiming that building a coal power plant is required by European solidarity and, at the same time, lack of any solidarity in protecting the climate by moving away from coal is the height of hypocrisy - concludes Diana Maciąga.

The Ministry of Energy has been referring to a number of false arguments and statements justifying the construction of Ostrołęka C. They are also included in a new document "Poland’s Energy Policy 2040 in questions and answers" (in Polish only). Apart from the already mentioned necessity of synchronization with the Baltic states, we would like to point out that:

  • No document confirms that Ostrołęka C is necessary to ensure the energy security of the country. In 2014 PSE, in a letter to the Supreme Audit Office (NIK), stated that abandoning construction of this power plant did not threaten it, and that after the 400 KV line to Olsztyn was built, any unit would be be redundant there from the point of view of balancing the network.
  • Ostrołęka C is permanently and deeply unviable - it will bring at least PLN 2.34 billion in losses. It will produce electricity more expensive than renewable energy sources and will cause increase in energy prices for consumers.
  • Ostrołęka C does not meet the restrictive EU emission standards resulting from the BAT conclusions on best available techniques which will apply from 2021. The current integrated permit does not allow for commissioning of this installation.
  • The integrated permit of the power plant has been challenged - the proceedings for the annulment of the decision on its extension are pending before the Voivodship Administrative Court.
  • Independent experts warn that the pollution emitted by the Ostrołęka C power plant in its 40-year lifespan may cause up to 2,000 premature deaths. Health costs of the power plant was estimated at EUR 340-680 million (PLN 2.9 billion).

Diana Maciąga
Climate coordinator, Association Workshop for All Beings
More information: elektrowniaostroleka.com/en

Ostrołęka C (1 GW) is the largest new coal-fired power plant planned in the European Union. For about 40 years it will block the development of renewable energy in the region, which would create from 45% to 1200% more jobs and an investment market worth EUR 16,3 to 202,8 million for the region, or EUR 2,3 to 4 billion on a national scale. Siedlce-Ostrołęka is the electoral district of minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski. The construction of Ostrołęka C was his electoral promise in parliamentary and local elections of, respectively, 2015 and 2018.

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