Lignite mine
Lignite mine. Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

Polish power utility, PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, has issued a statement that it cannot agree to closing the Turów lignite mine, as it supplies electricity to 3.7 million of Polish households, 7% of Polish demand.

The statement follows the European Court of Justice siding with the Czech Republic in an environmental suit against Poland. The Czechs state the mine, which is close to their border, is negatively impacting their local water supply, an infringement of European Union law.

Turów plays an important role in the electricity supply in Poland and the Polish believe closing the mine will have direct and dire implications for the grid. Furthermore, Poland will be forced to import lignite and fossil-based power from the Czech Republic or Germany.

According to PGE, Turów lignite mine has a valid, legally issued license and on that basis, mining is and will be carried out. The utility, as well as the miners employed at the mine, are concerned that this demonstrates an unjust energy transition, putting their livelihoods in jeopardy.

Wojciech Dąbrowski, president of the Management Board of PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna: “The CJEU’s decision is a path to a ‘grim deal’ energy transformation. This is the first real test of the European Green Deal, that supposed to be based on solidarity and just energy transition and not a programme supporting the unjust competition.”

Dąbrowski stated that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) treated both the Polish explanations and the entire situation of Turów complex very selectively. The arguments were distorted he claims, causing a paradox in which Poland’s voluntary and extra action for additional water protection in the Czech Republic was presented as a confirmation of the allegations.

Dąbrowski added: “Several dozen kilometers away from Turów, and even several hundred meters from the Polish border, there are 9 operating mines: 5 in the Czech Republic, 4 in Germany. The European Union allows them to continuously operate despite there much bigger impact on the environment. PGE therefore does not agree to unequal treatment of economic activity depending on the company’s nationality. The example of Turów shows that the energy and coal interests of other countries are to be developed at the expense of the Polish site.”

According to PGE, if all units in Turów were to be shut down, it would be impossible to restart them in the future. Therefore, temporary closure of mines and power plants would in fact mean their permanent liquidation many months before the complaint is resolved.