Dozens of Greenpeace activists are protesting at the CEZ Annual General Meeting against the planned sale of the Pocerady power plant. The protest started after the management of the company refused the minority shareholders‘ proposal to include Počerady as a topic for discussion at the AGM.
Six protesters stood around the main stage, demarcating the place of protest with a tape labeled “CLIMATE CHANGE CRIME SCENE”. Dozens of other protested in front of the main room. They have banners asking to close down the Počerady power plant and end the coal age. By selling its largest coal-fired power plant Počerady to private hands, CEZ can destroy the state climate and energy plans and prolong the coal industry in the Czech Republic for decades.
The protest followed an earlier Greenpeace happening, which took place before the general meeting. One of CEZ’s shareholders dressed in a coal costume and went to thank the company for its intention to support coal in the future, for example by selling the Pocerady power plant instead of closing it.
The Počerady Power Plant is one of the oldest coal-fired power plants in operation in the Czech Republic; its oldest parts were built 50 years ago. At present, the plant is the largest producer of greenhouse gases – it emits 5.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year, roughly equivalent to all freight transport emissions in the Czech Republic. At the same time, it is the largest Czech air polluter with toxic and highly poisonous mercury emissions.
The sale of the power plant to controversial coal tycoon Pavel Tykač, who wants to run it for decades, would break the state’s climate and energy strategy. Its long-term operation is not foreseen by the State Energy Concept of the Czech Republic. Počerady Power Station burns 10 tons of coal every minute, but two thirds are burnt in vain due to the low efficiency of the plant. The rest could easily be done without as due to the high amount of electricity that the Czech Republic exports – currently, exports are 2.5 times higher than the amount the power plant produces.
Nevertheless, Daniel Beneš, the CEO of the majority-owned state company ČEZ, is striving to sell the power plant. Despite that in 2017, the Supervisory Board of CEZ did not approve the sale for 10 billion crowns, because it was not enough for the company, whereas now there is a risk that the sale could be made for only 2 billion crowns.
Jiří Jeřábek, Greenpeace Energy Campaign Coordinator says:
“CEZ is now at a crossroad. We want it to stop the controversial sale of Počerady power plant to coal tycoon Pavel Tykač, and close the plant instead. But so far it seems that the company wants to sell it to controversial entrepreneur Pavel Tykač, who, on the contrary, hopes to be able to burn coal in Počerady as long as possible, and doesn’t care about any commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conventional pollution at all.”