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Greece And Poland Turn To Coal, As Germany Dithers

June 22, 2015

By Paul Homewood  


News from Greece that the government there is determined to go ahead with the new lignite power plant, Ptolemaida V:


Greece Turns To Coal, Calls Renewable Energy A Threat To National Security

  • Date: 21/06/15
  • Ilias Tsagas, PV Magazine

Greek energy minister warns that renewable energy is a threat to national security.

[…] The new government’s policy shift away from renewable energies “is very clear” said Psomas. “All [the new government] is concerned with is how to promote power generation from fossil fuels e.g. new lignite power stations, new gas pipes and explanatory drilling for oil. So far, it has shown no interest at all for renewables energy” Psomas added.

Since the end of January, when a new coalition government between a far left party and a populist right party came to power, the new government is at war with many of  Greece’s environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The subject of the stormy relationship is the Greek government’s decision to give the final go ahead at Ptolemaida V, a 660 MW new power plant that burns lignite.

WWF Greece, the Greek arm of the international organisation WWF, has gathered 48000 signatures from citizens who ask Greece’s energy minister to stop the approval of new lignite power plant. Greece’s energy minister Panayotis Lafazanis has refused to meet with WWF Greece to collect the signatures.

Both WWF Greece and Greenpeace Greece have accused the new government that it falls prey to the lignite lobby, not prioritising Greece’s benefits and have published studies proving the hazardous character of the new lignite plant for Greece’s economy, environment and public health.

Energy minister Lafazanis answers that Ptolemaida V [is] required since renewable power plants are intermittent and endanger the country’s energy security. […]

In May, Lafazanis sent a letter to the European Commission asking permission to operate the Ptolemaida III, a separate coal plant that is shut down due to its very old technology that pollutes the environments enormously. One of Lafazanis arguments was “the economic crisis in Greece, which makes the need for keeping the cost of energy for households’ heating as low as possible.”


Meanwhile, in Poland:



Poland’s leading opposition party is seeking to negotiate exemptions from the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal.

Law & Justice, which opinion polls show winning October’s general election, has vowed to toughen Poland’s stance on climate issues to protect the $526 billion economy, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its electricity. While the government has been critical of EU emissions goals, it didn’t veto last year’s move toward stricter curbs on discharging heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

“The strategy that we’re planning for the economy rejects the dogma of de-carbonization,” Piotr Naimski, in charge of preparing energy policy at Law & Justice, said in an interview last week. “The role of coal in Poland’s economy fully deserves to receive special treatment.”

Poland will negotiate hard to win “respect” from EU partners for its stance on coal, which Naimski said mirrors the special exceptions, or “opt-outs,” from the bloc’s rules won by a number of other member nations. The country treats development of its coal deposits as a keystone of its energy security in a region dependent on Russian oil and gas imports.

“Nobody is thinking of leaving the EU, but there is an idea to again look at Poland’s unique situation,” he said.


The 28-nation EU’s regulatory arm wants to propose in July a draft law detailing how to implement last year’s agreement to curb emissions by 40 percent by 2030 from levels in the 1990s.

Law & Justice wants to help Poland’s coal industry, which has racked up 800 million zloty ($217 million) of losses in the first four months of 2015, by strengthening ties between state-owned mines and profitable power companies. It wants to build 6-8 gigawatts of mostly coal-fueled plants, including units already under construction.

“There should be a link between the producer of coal and the power generator, with the marketable product being electricity and not necessarily” the fossil fuel from which it’s produced, Naimski said. “This functional link can be reached through long-term supply contracts or capital ties.”

Poland must reduce coal production, the biggest in the EU at 70.5 million tons last year, over time and trim the industry’s jobs to ensure profitability, he said. State mines need 5 billion zloty in investment to turn a profit, the former deputy economy minister said in Warsaw.


However, in Germany the Frankfurter Allgemeine report the looming crisis facing new power plant construction:


While the economic pressure on existing co-generation and conventional power plants is increasing, new power plant construction in Germany is facing a deepening crisis. Around 53 percent of all planned power plants lack secure investments.
In total 74 large-scale power plant projects with approximately 33,000 megawatts of installed capacity are in planning, have been approved or are under construction. 39 projects, however, are in doubt. Last year, in comparison, there were 32 projects and in 2013 there were 22 projects that were considered unsafe.
“If current policies continue as before, there will be no new, modern power plants built in Germany. There is simply no incentives for investment, even if policy makers always stress that they want to change that. The opposite is the case with regards existing plans, “said Hildegard Müller, the president of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).
This problem is aggravated by the fact that the share of power plants that can produce electricity around the clock will fall sharply in the coming years.


Interestingly, of the 39 projects mentioned, 12 are gas, and 17 offshore wind.



EU energy policy is rapidly descending into a shambles.

  1. John F. Hultquist permalink
    June 22, 2015 3:54 pm

    There is a saying about a child with a hammer – everything looks like a nail.
    Seems when folks are cold and the lights go out – everything looks like fuel.
    If WWF, Greenpeace and so on want to reduce use of coal the best thing they could do would be to fund energy research and a few nuke plants and lobby for lessening the restrictions on the latter.

    Question: If the EU fines a country or company for not reducing emissions, does the money go for projects that might help the problem? Or, perhaps, does the money disappear behind a veil, to be used in mysterious ways never to be revealed?

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      June 22, 2015 6:46 pm

      The latter for the money, as the accounts are never published we’ll never know.

      • Kartoffel permalink
        June 22, 2015 8:08 pm

        Dole Day is coming to the hottest but not soon enough.

  2. Graeme No.3 permalink
    June 22, 2015 4:14 pm

    Allow a significant amount of renewables – esp. wind – and you get wild swings in generation. Allowing wind complete freedom to dump whatever and whenever it likes, makes all forms of steady generation uneconomic.
    So the Greens only have to get enough disruption and then they will claim that only more wind turbines are the answer. This will last until the blackouts start.

    Both sides of politics in Poland and Greece seem to have realised that their countries can’t afford endless subsidies that raise electricity prices and cost jobs. I wonder how long before the UK decides likewise, if belatedly.

  3. Kartoffel permalink
    June 22, 2015 8:12 pm

    In Europe coal is cheap, gas costs 3 times the US price.

  4. June 22, 2015 8:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    Interesting developments from struggling societies.


  1. Greece And Poland Turn To Coal, As Germany Dithers | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT | Cranky Old Crow

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