Subsidising the past

How public aid and ignoring external costs keep Poland’s coal-based energy system alive

Publication - April 8, 2014
A new report prepared by the Warsaw Institute for Economic Studies for Greenpeace Poland reveals that cumulative public financial support for coal-based power in Poland amounted to PLN170 billion (€40.5 billion2) between 1990 and 2012. In addition, it is estimated that Poland’s coal sector caused at least PLN700 billion to PLN2,200 billion (€167 billion to €524 billion) in pollution and health costs over the same period. The report assessed state aid, subsidies and economic support schemes that provided coal-based power with a competitive advantage over other means of energy generation. This briefing summarises the main findings of the report.

Patnow Coal Plant's Chimney

Smoke belching from the Patnow coal plant's chimney. The plant burns the dirtier higher sulphur lignite or brown coal. It is situated near Konin in Poland.

Without the subsidising of coal mining and coal-based electricity production, the Polish mining industry would probably not be able to compete on the global market without a significant restructuring effort.

The Polish government has to make a strategic decision about the future of the Polish energy market. They should step up their ambition level on renewable energy and energy efficiency and support an ambitious set of three binding European climate and energy targets for 2030: for renewables, greenhouse gas emission reductions and energy efficiency.

Subsidising the past