Greening the Heartlands of Coal in Europe – Insights from a Czech-German-Polish Dialogue on Energy Issues



 The Heinrich Böll Foundation presents a new publication entitled "Greening the Heartlands of Coal in Europe – Insights from a Czech-German-Polish Dialogue on Energy Issues".


Did you know, for example:

-  that CO2 emissions per head are higher in Germany than in Poland? (see pp. 14-15)
-  that Poland became a net coal importer in 2012 and that Poland’s largest black coal producer,
Kompania Węglowa, is on the verge of bankruptcy? (see p. 22)
-  that 89 percent of Poles want more energy from renewable sources? (see p. 29)
-  that ČEZ, the investor for two new reactors planned at the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant, is requesting purchase price guarantees from the Czech government, and that such guarantees would represent a substantially greater sum than the cost of support for new solar and wind power plants in Germany from 2014? (see p. 20)
- that only two percent of uranium deliveries for European needs come from EU countries? (see p. 17)



About the study

This study is the product of a trilateral expert group which met regularly during 2013 at the invitation of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Ecologic Institute to discuss the influence of the German energy transformation on Germany’s neighbours – Poland and the Czech Republic. The group of experts focused on perceptions of the German energy transformation in the three countries, its impact on cross-border electricity flows and the consequences of various forms of support mechanisms for renewable energy sources.


According to the publication’s authors, the three countries mentioned above have one thing in common: dependence on coal. Together, they account for almost 80% of the EU’s black coal production and almost 70% of its brown coal production, and they produce 55% of the EU’s electricity from coal. Where these countries differ significantly, however, is the strategy with which they approach this dependence.


“While in Germany we are engaged in intensive debate about the energy transformation (Energiewende), its impacts on our European neighbours hardly ever come up in discussions,” says Ralf Fücks, president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, criticising the current debate on the energy transformation in Germany. “Poland and the Czech Republic see the energy transformation as a very risky project,” Fücks continues. The higher the share of renewable energy in Germany is, the clearer the impact on Germany’s neighbours gets, especially on their electricity systems. “Closer cooperation and coordination is therefore inevitable.”


In the context of the crisis in Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently warned of growing dependence on Russian natural gas. The Polish government is considering support for domestic shale gas and the construction of Poland’s first nuclear power plant as a way out of this dependence. Poland is also betting on coal, although in the case of black coal Poland has become an importer. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is planning to expand the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka indicated on a recent visit to Germany that he considers the EU’s goals in the area of renewable energy sources to be overly ambitious. Not only do these various strategies complicate agreement at the European level, they also lead to misunderstandings – especially with respect to the challenges posed by the energy transformation. This publication provides information and analyses which explain the different approaches and debates in the three countries mentioned.


Despite all the differences between these countries, however, the publication’s authors offer a range of recommendations, in particular for better cross-border cooperation and intensive dialogue with the goal of facing our energy and climate challenges together. “Sooner or later, all three countries will face questions concerning the transition to climate-friendly energy and how to terminate the use of coal with all the associated environmental and social issues. Cooperation and exchanges of experience, especially in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, may prove very useful,” says Raffaele Piria, the study’s lead author.


Jan Ondřich, one of the study’s co-authors, adds: “The German energy transformation is presented rather negatively in the Czech Republic. But I believe the Energiewende offers us many positives as well, for example lower electricity prices for Czech consumers and the possibility of Czech companies participating in innovative investments in the German energy sector.”

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