Poland and coal

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Nearly 85% of Poland's electricity in 2012 was produced from coal. Two thirds of the installed coal plants are older than 30 years.[1]

Poland's 2009 Energy Policy until 2030 (pdf), the main strategic document for the country's energy policy, states that 74% of the country's energy will still come from fossil fuels by 2030 (the share of renewable energies is to reach at least 15% of energy total production by 2020, and increase by one percent until 2030, while nuclear will be 10%.)[1]


In 2004 coal-fired power generation accounted for approximately 92% of Poland's 34.6 GW electricity generation capacity, almost entirely from domestic coal. While gas accounts for only 2.2% of electricity generation, its share is growing as overall consumption increases.[2][3]

While the Polish coal industry remains a substantial producer, the industry has undergone a dramatic restructuring with production falling by approximately one third between 1988 and 1998. The Austrian Energy Agency notes that Poland's Guidelines for Energy Policy of Poland until 2020 state that hard coal production will decline to 80 million tonnes by 2020 and none will be exported.[2]

The future of the domestic coal mining industry is therefore tied to the power generation industry, which itself is in the midst of a major shake-up. The Austrian Energy Council points out that the existing generation capacity is aging which it states "is becoming an increasingly serious problem".

"More than half of the current capacity was built in the 1970s. Approximately 60% of the system is more than 15 years old, and 40% is more than 20 years old. More than 1.5 GWe has been in operation for more than 30 years. This problem has been exacerbated by insufficient expenditure on maintenance and modernization projects. PSE has estimated that by 2005, over 20 GWe of capacity will need rehabilitation while almost 3 GWe will need to be retired. Rehabilitation costs, including environmental protection costs, are estimated between $50 and $350 per kW of capacity. Additionally, there are plans in place to expand the existing transmission and distribution networks. These investments in the electricity industry are estimated to cost around $50 billion over the next 15 years. Much of this cost, though, is proposed to be covered in the process of privatization," the Austrian Energy Council states.[2]

Poland, the EU, and climate negotiations

In 2011, Poland drew sharp criticism when it blocked EU plans to raise its goal for reducing carbon emissions. At 20 percent by 2020, Poland already exceeds the bloc's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol.

"Poland is 90 percent dependent on coal. Everybody knows it. For us, 20 percent is ambitious," according to Joanna Mackowiak-Pandera, undersecretary of state in the Polish environment ministry.[4]

In 2018 Poland sued to try to avoid new EU pollution rules.[5]

Health costs of coal

A 2013 report by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) found that burning coal to produce electricity costs Europeans €42.8 billion (US $55 billion) in health care costs annually. About €8 billion of that is Poland. The new report is based on a calculation of the costs associated with premature deaths resulting from exposure to coal-related air pollution, medical visits, hospitalizations, medication and reduced activity, including working days lost.[6]

Coal mining

In 2005 Poland mined approximately 159 million tonnes of coal according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Of this, just over 61 million tonnes was brown coal and lignite and the remainder bituminous coal.[7] In 2004 approximately 58.7% of the country's installed generation capacity was publicly-owned power stations burning hard coal while a further 25.4% operated on lignite.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that "in 2005, bituminous coal production declined by more than 3% compared with that of 2004. In 2005, the country’s net exports of bituminous coal and anthracite were about 1.7% less than in 2004. Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Finland were (in order of value) the major importers of Polish coal. The upper Silesian, the lower Silesian, and the Lublin Basins have exploitable resources that amounted to 43,32 Mt of coal in 32 deposits. the upper Silesian Basin represented the major portion of the country’s total reserves, hosting about 79% of the total in 110 deposits."[8]

The British Geological survey states that over 76 million tonnes of bituminous coal and 56.5 million tonnes of lignite coal were extracted in 2010.[9]

Coal reserves

According to European Association for Coal and Lignite (Euracoal), a coal industry lobbying group, Poland has hard coal reserves totalling 16.9 billion tonnes, mainly located in Upper Silesia and in the Lublin basin. Mineable lignite reserves amount to almost 15 billion tonnes.[10]

Coal imports

According to data by the European Association for Coal and Lignite (EUROCOAL), Poland became a net importer of coal in the 2000s. In 2010, imports of coal amounted to 13.4 million tonnes.[11]

Coal plants

Click here for a list of coal plants in Poland (compiled by Greenpeace).

Proposed Coal-Fired Power Stations

Poland plans to construct a capacity of 11,300 megawatts of coal power by 2020.[1]

  • Belchatow 2 Power Station in Rogowiec is proposed by Alstom for Elektrownia Belchatow to have an installed capacity of 833 megawatts and cost over 900 million euros. It is proposed that the plant will be commissioned in October 2010.[12][13] Alstom Poland state that in October 2008 the company signed a contract with the Polish utility BOT Elektrownia Belchatow SA to build what "will be the largest power plant ever built in the country ... The plant would generate 10% less CO2 on a per KWh basis than the typical coal plant in the region."[14] The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which funded the project, states on its website that "the project represents a major step in upgrading existing generating assets in Poland to ensure that they meet EU environmental legislation post 2008, notably requirements of the EU Large Combustion Plant and IPPC directives. The project is also an integral part of Polish governmental energy security program."[15]
  • Bielsko Biala Power Station is a complex of coal-fired combined heat and power plants at Czechowice-Dziedzice near Bielsko-Biała, Poland. The complex is operated by Południowy Koncern Energetyczny, a subsidiary of the Tauron Group. In 2009, it was announced that Tauron Group is planning to build a new generation unit with power capacity of 50MW and thermal capacity of 150MW. Operation is planned for March 2013.[16]
  • Gubin Power Project is a proposed new lignite coal mine and 1,800-2,700MW coal power station in the Gubin area by state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna, "if climate policy allows for economic validity of the project," according to the company's 2012 strategy report. The station has a proposed commercial operation date of 2030. Project plans include possible extension of the new plant with CCS.[17]
  • Jaworzno Power Station is a 1.35GW coal power station with six units at Jaworzno, Poland. It is owned by the Tauron Group.[18] Tauron is looking for bidders to build an additional 800-910 MW unit at the power plant, planned for 2018.[19]
  • Kozienice Power Station is a coal-fired thermal power station in Świerże Górne near Kozienice, Poland. It is Poland's second largest power station with an installed capacity of 2,820 MW (ten units). It is owned by Grupa Energetyczna Enea SA (Enea).[20] Enea plans for an additional €1.3 billion coal-fired unit at the station with an installed capacity of 1000 MW. Construction will start in 2012. Enea group has also signed a PLN 22.5 million (€5.2 million) coal supply agreement with Bogdanka coal mine, expiring in 2036.[21]
  • Ostroleka Power Station is a coal-fired thermal power station in Ostrołęka owned by Energa. It consists of two parts: the Ostrołęka A combined heat and power plant with installed capacity of 93MW electricity and 456MW of heat was built in 1956. The Ostrołęka B power station was built in 1972. It consists of three units with combined installed capacity of 647MW.[27] There is a plan to build a 1,000 MW Ostrołęka C unit by 2015.[27][28] It would be supplied by coal from the Bogdanka Coal Mine.[27]
  • Patnow II Power Station is a 464 megawatt unit proposed by Zespol Elektrowni Patnow-Adamow-Konin, S.A. with a contracted commissioning date of December 31, 2007.[29]
  • Piast Ruch Power Station is a proposal by RWE for a 800 megawatt power station to be built on the Piast Ruch II coal mine in the village of Wola in Silesia. The project will be a joint venture between RWE and Kompania Węglowa, which owns the minesite and will supply the coal. It is proposed that the 1.5 billion euro project be commissioned in 2015.[30] In June 2008 RWE and Kompania Węglowa stated that the project would consume approximately 2.5 million tonnes of locally produced hard coal a year. The joint venturers have flagged that they are aiming to get approvals for the project in 2009-2010. [31]
  • Polnoc Power Station is a 2000 MW coal power plant proposed by Elektrownia Polnoc, an affiliate of Kulczyk Investments, for the Pomerania region of Northern Poland. In December 2011, the company entered into a long-term agreement with Lubelski Węgiel Bogdanka SA for coal supply to Elektrownia Północ.[32] It is planned for the plant to be operational after 2016 at an estimated cost of EUR 3.1-3.8 billion.[33]
  • Rybnik Power Station is a 1775 MW plant on the outskirts of Rybnik, Silesia, owned by the Polish power company EDF Group.[34] EDF is constructing a new 900 MW supercritical coal-fired power plant at the site. The project, slated for 2017, will involve the replacement of the four oldest units at the existing Rybnik plant.[35]
  • Tychy Power Station is a coal-powered station in Tychy, Poland owned by the Tauron Group. By 2016, Tauron plans to build another coal-fired heat and power unit at the station with the capacity to generate 50 megawatts of electricity and 86 megawatts of thermal energy.[37]
  • Zofiowka Power Station is a planned 70 MW coal-fired power station in Tarnow, Poland, by Spolka Energetyczna Jastrzebie. It is expected to be completed by 2015.[38]
  • an unnamed power station has been proposed by GE to have an installed capacity of 900 megawatts at a cost of 787 million euros. The plant would be an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) project.

Involvement of international financial institutions

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said that it will not finance any coal project in Poland. However, it does support the Sostanj lignite power plant project in Slovenia, and has approved a loan for the coal-fired Bielsko Biala Power Station and participates in informal talks with Elektrownia Pólnoc Ltd. about the proposed Polnoc Power Station, which would have a capacity of 2000 MW.[1]

Coal Mines

The U.S. Geological Survey lists the operating coal mines, as of 1005, in Poland as being[39]:

  • Zaklad Wydobywczo's mine in Lower Silesia which produced 200,000 tonnes capacity of anthracite;
  • A number of mines in Upper Silesia which in total produced 140,000 million tonnes of bituminous coal production capacity. These were:
    • Bytomska Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 9 mines;
    • Rudzka Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 6 mines;
    • Gliwicka Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 7 mines;
    • Katowicki Holding Weglowy S.A. which had 11 mines;
    • Nadwislanska Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 8 mines;
    • Rybnicka Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 5 mines;
    • Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa S.A. which had 6 mines;
    • Seven independent mines
    • Walbrzyskie Kopalnie Wegla
    • Kamiennego
    • KWK "Nowa Ruda"
    • KWK "Bogdanka" S. A.
  • A number of mining companies with an annual production capacity of 75 million tonnes of lignite. These include[40]:
    • KWK "Belchatow" Belchatow
    • KWK "Turow" Turow
    • KWK "Konin" Konin
    • KWK "Adamow" Adamow
    • KWK "Sieniawa" Sieniawa

Coal mining project approved

In June 2011, New World Resources (NWR), the biggest Czech coking-coal supplier, said its board of directors gave final approval to extract coal from the Debiensko mine in Poland. NWR expects to begin the project by the end of 2011, and extracting coal by 2017. The company's feasibility study indicated the mine had reserves of about 190 million metric tons, for an average annual production of 2 million tons. Total investment in the mine will reach 411 million euros ($584 million).

Seven-eighths of the mine’s reserves are coking coal and one-eighth is the less profitable thermal coal, the feasibility study shows. NWR has a 50-year mining license, granted in 2008, to extract coal from Debiensko. The company also applied for a license to mine additional coal seams at the site and expects to receive approval for that project by mid-2012, it said.[41]

Coal mine construction stopped

On March 12, 2009, Greenpeace International announced that the construction of a new coal mine in Tomislawice had been halted. Following from a Greenpeace legal challenge in December 2008, a Polish court found possible illegalities in the project's environmental assessment process. Construction has been suspended pending an investigation. The new mine would result in about 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.[42]

Coal plants slated for closure

The following coal plants in Poland of 50MW or more have decided to opt-out of the EU Large Combusion Directive, meaning they must close down when their max 20,000 hours running time since January 2008 expires or at the end of 2015:[43]

  • TAURON-Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Elektrownia Siersza
  • Synthos Dwory 7 Sp. z o.o. Sp komandytowo-akcyjna
  • Elektrociepłownia "Kraków" S.A.
  • Elektrownia Skawina S.A.
  • Nadwislańska Spółka Energetyczna Sp. z o.o., Zakład Ciepłowniczy nr 3 "Janina"
  • Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN S.A., Zakład Elektrociepłowni, Instalacja Bloku Energetycznego
  • ENERGA Elektrownie Ostrołęka S.A.
  • Bumar Amunicja S.A.
  • Elektrociepłownia Wbrzeże S.A., Elektrociepłownia Gdyńska
  • Tauron - Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Elektrownia Blachownia
  • PCC Rokita S.A.
  • Elektrociepłownia Białystok S.A.
  • Elektrociepłownia Zielona Góra S.A.
  • PGE Elektrociepłownia Gorzów S.A.
  • Ekektrociepłownia Tychy S.A.
  • Forum Bytom S.A. Elektociepownia Miechowice
  • TAURON - Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Elektrownia Jaworzno III
  • TAURON - Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Elektrownia Lagisza
  • TAURON - Wytwarzanie S.A., Oddzial Elektrownia Halemba
  • TAURON - Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Elektrocieplownia Katowice
  • TAURON - Wytwarzanie S.A. Oddzial Zespol Elektrocieplowni Elektrocieplownia Bielsko-Biala EC 1
  • Zakład Elektroenergetyczny H.Cz. ELSEN S.A.
  • Ekektrociepłownia Będzin S.A.
  • Forum Zabrze S.A.
  • Zakłady Mechaniczne BUMAR ŁABĘDY S.A.
  • ENERGA Elektrociepłownia Kalisz S.A.
  • PAK Zespół Elektrowni Pątnów-Adamów-Konin S.A.
  • Dalkia Poznań ZEC S.A., Elektrociepłownia Garbary
  • PGE Zespół Elektrociepłowni Bydgoszcz S.A., EC Bydgoszcz II
  • ELANA ENERGETYKA Sp. z o.o., Elektrociepłownia II
  • Energetyka Boruta Sp. z o.o., Ciepłownia EC II and III
  • Energetyka Cieplna Opolszczyzny S.A., kotłownia Olesno
  • FENICE Poland Sp. z o.o., Jednostka Operatywna Krosno
  • Orion Engineered Carbons Sp. z oo
  • Nadwislańska Spółka Energetyczna Sp. z o.o., Zakład Ciepłowniczy Nr 2 "Czeczot"
  • Nadwislańska Spółka Energetyczna Sp. z o.o., Zakład Ciepłowniczy Nr 5 "Silesia"
  • PGE Zespół Elektrowni Dolna Odra S.A.
  • PGE Gornictwo I Energetyka Konwencjonalna S.A. -Oddzial Zespol Elektrown Dolna Odra, Elektrownia Szczecin
  • Okręgowe Przedsiebiorstwo Energetyki Cieplnej Sp. z o.o. , ZEC Wejherowo - Ciepłownia Nanice

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Coal-fired power plants in Poland," Bankwatch, accessed Oct. 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Austrian Energy Agency, "Supply: Energy Sources", September 4, 2007.
  3. European Commission, "Poland – Energy Mix Fact Sheet", European Commission website, January 2007, page 2.
  4. Barbara Lewis, "Coal-reliant Poland says apt to lead EU at Durban" Reuters, Dec. 2, 2011.
  5. "ClientEarth moves to defend new EU rules from 'inexcusable' coal industry attack" ClientEarth, Feb 28, 2018.
  6. Alex Kirby, "Coal burning exacts a lethal price - report," Climate News Network, March 7, 2013.
  7. Walter G. Steblez, "The Mineral Industries of Central Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia", 2005 Minerals Yearbook, U.S. Geological Survey, page 17.
  8. Walter G. Steblez, "The Mineral Industries of Central Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia", 2005 Minerals Yearbook, U.S. Geological Survey, page 7.
  9. "European Mineral Statistics: 2006-2010," British Geological Survey, 2012.
  10. "Poland," Eurocoal, accessed Nov. 2012.
  11. Daan Bauwens, "Poland Clings On to Coal," Inter Press News Service, July 2, 2012.
  12. Alstom, "Alstom to supply the largest clean coal power plant ever built in Poland", Alstom website, October 16, 2006.
  13. Alstom, "Belchatow", Alrom website, accessed July 2008.
  14. Alstom, "ALSTOM in Poland: A highly promising market", Alstom website, undated, accessed July 2008.
  15. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Belchatow II: Environmental Impact Assessment, August 2005.
  16. "Tauron to build new power unit for Bielsko Biala power station", PMR (2009-04-17). Retrieved on 2010-11-30. 
  17. "Creating value and safe future PGE Group Strategy 2012-2035," PGE, Feb. 2012.
  18. "History: We build modernity based on 100-year-long tradition," Tauron website, accessed Sep. 2012.
  19. "Power group Tauron again puts off deadline for EUR 1.1bn Jaworzno unit," GoWarsaw.eu, August 13, 2012.
  20. "Enea: About Us: Power Plant specifications," Enea website, accessed September 2012.
  21. "Enea to start a 1000MW coal-fired project in 2012," Cleantech Poland, January 24, 2012.
  22. "ClientEarth Summary Briefing of Analysis of Polish National Investment Plan for Article 10c) ETS Directive application for transitional free allowances," ClientEarth Summary Briefing, July 2, 2012.
  23. Nathaniel Espino, "Poland’s PGE, GDF Suez Agree to Build Coal-Fired Power Plant" Bloomberg BusinessWeek, June 16, 2010.
  24. "Creating value and safe future PGE Group Strategy 2012-2035," PGE, Feb. 2012.
  25. http://www.pgesa.pl/en/InvestorRelations/Documents/PGE%20Group%20strategy%202012_2035_presentation.pdf "Creating value and safe future PGE Group Strategy 2012-2035,"] PGE, Feb. 2012.
  26. Chris Borowski and Agnieszka Barteczko, "UPDATE 2-Polish utility PGE scraps $3.6 bln coal power project," Reuters, April 5, 2013
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 "Polish coal miner Bogdanka to supply Ostroleka power plant", Platts (2010-10-20). Retrieved on 2010-12-04. 
  28. "Energa upgrading Ostroleka power station", Construction Sector in Poland, PMR (2008-06-30). Retrieved on 2010-12-04. 
  29. ZE PAK, "History of the Construction Project", ZE PAK website, accessed July 2008.
  30. RWE, "RWE planning to invest 1.5 billion euros in Polish power generation sector", Media Release, June 12, 2008.
  31. RWE, "Press Meeting of RWE and Kompania Węglowa", June 12, 2008, pages 10-11. (Large Pdf file).
  32. "Energy: Elektrownia Północ Sp. z o.o.," Kulczyk Investments website, accessed Oct. 2012.
  33. "Pólnoc coal power plant," Bankwatch, accessed Oct. 2012.
  34. "EDF Rybnik," EDF, accessed Sep. 2012.
  35. "EDF will build in Rybnik, Poland, a highly efficient 900 MW supercritical coal-fired power plant," EDF, May 12, 2011.
  36. "Creating value and safe future PGE Group Strategy 2012-2035," PGE, Feb. 2012.
  37. "Tauron Gets State Funding to Switch Coal-Fired Plant to Biomass," Bloomberg, April 12, 2012.
  38. "Tender for new power unit at Elektrocieplownia Zofiowka pencilled in for near future," PMR, Dec. 19, 2011.
  39. Walter G. Steblez, "The Mineral Industries of Central Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia", 2005 Minerals Yearbook, U.S. Geological Survey, page 18.
  40. Walter G. Steblez, "The Mineral Industries of Central Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia", 2005 Minerals Yearbook, U.S. Geological Survey, page 19.
  41. Ladka Bauerova, "New World Resources Board Gives Final Approval to Debiensko Mine" Bloomberg, Jun 20, 2011.
  42. "VICTORY! Polish coal mine construction halted," Greenpeace International, March 12, 2009.
  43. "Opted Out plants 1 January 2012", European Environment Agency, October 2012.

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