Coal only option for Poland ‘unless you want to close the economy’

The head of Poland’s biggest private mining group says there is no alternative to coal-fired power in the country for the next 15 years, without a complete shutdown of the economy.

Michal Herman, the head of PG Silesia
, said in an interview at the Reuters Central & Eastern Europe Investment Summit, said, “Focusing on coal is the only model in Poland. There is no other way, unless you want to close the economy.”
Michal Herman, the head of PG Silesia
Herman was making a larger point about the lack of development of alternative energy in the country as well as the influence of trade unions.

Poland currently generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from burning coal produced by its state-owned mines and despite EU carbon emission regulations, Poland has stated it will resolutely stick with coal as switching in a short period of time would be too expensive.

Herman also ruled out the development of nuclear power.

“I think there will be no nuclear power plant built in the next 15 years, I would even say not in the next 20 years. There is no expertise, no know-how, but there are discussions right now,” he said. “Poland will defend coal, because of the mining traditions, the trade unions are strong, around 1 million voters are connected to coal.”

He added that PG Silesia will probably increase its coal output to around 2 million tonnes this year, from 1.4 million in 2016, and he expects coal and power prices in Poland to rise in the coming years.

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