Poland’s plan to carve out coal-fired power plants sparked a rally in the country’s biggest utilities. Now for the hard part — approving it.
Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin’s proposal, which would free up state-owned companies to invest in clean energy, has to win over trade unions, the European Union’s executive and gain approval from Poland’s bickering coalition government.
None of these steps will be easy and could delay the plan beyond 2022.
At stake is the future of Polish utilities that have been hit hard by the surging cost of greenhouse emissions in the EU as it shifts towards renewable energy. Burning coal still accounts for 70% of the electricity generated in the bloc’s most carbon intensive nation. “There is no doubt in my mind that the spinoff is going to happen,” said Michal Kozak, an analyst at Trigon brokerage in Warsaw. “Otherwise, the companies could even go bankrupt.”
The plan, based on a German overhaul and designed by Sasin’s State Assets Ministry, proposes setting up a state vehicle — the National Agency for Energy Security. Starting from next year, it would start taking over the 70 coal-fired units owned by state-controlled utilities PGE, Tauron Polska Energia and Enea.
In doing so, power producers will be able to focus more on renewable energy and help the country’s green transition, which the government said may cost about $423 billion by 2040. Trade union representatives have already sought to dampen market optimism.
Piotr Serafin, one of the labour leaders at Tauron, said that the revamp is so complicated that it may require more time than the government predicts.