How much does coal really cost us?
Poland still produces about 85% of its energy from coal. Does it mean that Polish coal is cheap? In the years 1990-2012 Poland has paid up to PLN 400 billion for the production of electricity from coal. On average, every citizen (including children!) paid PLN 1,876 a year in coal subsidies! The external health costs of air pollution generated by coal-fired power generation are estimated at about 34 billion PLN. These figures will not be seen on electricity bills, but we still bear these costs in our taxes.
Coal – does it pay off?
Investing in coal has become completely unprofitable. The largest banks in the world are no longer willing to finance coal investments. Banks are supporting projects which ensure energy security and innovation and thus the competitiveness of economies. On the other hand, they get rid of projects based on outdated technologies posing a threat to people and the environment. Examples? The World Bank refuses to finance the construction of new power plants and stresses that the costs of health and climate change caused by coal increase poverty. Throughout Europe, the energy giants are abandoning coal. The 5 largest energy companies in Europe controlling 60% of the market lost more than 100 billion euros in 2008-2013. Coal is also unacceptable in terms of climate protection, the people and the environment.
The end coal - it's happening now
We are witnessing the end of coal in Poland. Coal resources from active mines will only suffice for 30-40 years. By 2035, the lignite resources in mines in Konin, Turów and Bełchatów will also be exhausted. In a few years, the Polish energy industry will have to bear the additional costs associated with CO2 emissions and water charges. Investments in coal are expensive, inefficient and detrimental to the environment. While successive governments stubbornly keep seing coal as the basis for energy security in the country there is no doubt that the coal era is coming to an end.