Energy Summit 2019 on “the conditions for a sustainable energy transition” took place in Warsaw on 1-2 October 2019, organised by the Polish Ministry of Energy, EURACOAL and the Polish Mining Group (PGG). Coal industry leaders from across Europe participated to discuss topics of importance. The summit was opened by Mr. Tomasz Rogala, President of EURACOAL and Chairman of the Board at PGG – the biggest hard-coal producer in Europe.
The Polish government was well represented by Mr. Krzysztof Tchórzewski, Minister for Energy, Mr. Adam Gawęda, Secretary of State and Government Plenipotentiary for the Restructuring of Coal Mining as well as Mr. Gawęda’s predecessor, MEP Grzegorz Tobiszowski, who now sits in the European Parliament where he is a member of the influential industry committee (ITRE). For family reasons, the Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Mateusz Morawiecki, had suspended his pubic duties at the time of the summit, but sent a letter of support.
The discussions were divided into four thematic panels:
natural environment and climate change,
security of raw materials supplies,
society and human capital, and
industry expectations for the energy transition.
These allowed those present to give their views of the measures needed for a safe and secure energy transition. Two views were repeated often.
Firstly, a call for some kind of protectionist measures to guard against carbon leakage, perhaps in the form of a carbon-border tax to create a level playing field for those European industries which must complete on the global market. If EU companies continue to pay ever-increasing fees related to environmental and climate policies, then their competitiveness will be lost. To survive, companies will be forced to move their production out of the EU which will then become more dependent on imported products, often made with little concern for the environment or climate. Such an outcome would not only undermine EU standards and policies at home, but also hamper their contribution to global objectives.
The second important view expressed by participants was that the energy transition needs to be a just transition. This means that it must take into account:
the different starting points of each EU member state, based on their particular histories and legacy infrastructure;
the magnitude of the efforts needed to transform the energy sector;
the time that the sometimes massive social changes will take; and
the financial support needed for investments in diversified energy sources, smart grids and energy efficiency.
This social dimension of the energy transition was highlighted by both industry representatives and trade unionists. All agreed that change should be achieved without pushing up electricity prices as this would damage industrial competitiveness and add to the existing problem of energy poverty. This point resonated with colleagues from Germany who face a coal phase-out by 2038 and its replacement with renewable energy sources. The latter have proven costly in countries such as Denmark where electricity prices are more than double those in Poland, according to Mr. Piotr Woźniak, President of the Polish gas company PGNiG.
In the closing session, the EURACOAL President, Mr. Tomasz Rogala, presented the meeting’s declaration which sets out the conditions for a sustainable energy transition. It is available here in Polish and English.
The climate challenge requires global solutions with similar ambitions everywhere.
A carbon-neutral EU economy by 2050 is highly ambitious: the necessary technologies need to be developed and deployed, and carbon-leakage risks need to be clearly addressed.
Without large-scale energy storage, conventional thermal power generation will still be needed.
To gain public support and to maintain EU competitiveness, solutions have to be affordable.
EU member states should remain free to choose their own (different) energy mixes.
Coal’s contribution today:
The EU coal sector has reduced its CO2 emissions by over 47% since 1990, thus helping to meet targets in the UNFCCC Paris agreement. No other sector has done as much.
The extraction and use of coal is linked to over 200 000 high-quality, well-paid direct jobs, as well as indirect jobs at suppliers.
Coal contributes to affordable and competitive electricity prices and thereby to EU prosperity, reinforcing the EU as a place to do business.
Coal’s contribution tomorrow:
Coal is a partner for electricity generation from renewables: existing coal power plants respond flexibly to the ups and downs of wind and solar power.
Under the EU ETS, the coal sector will continue to reduce its emissions, cost-effectively. Accordingly, the EU emissions trading system should remain the only instrument used to drive down CO2 emissions in the power sector.
Coal’s contribution the day after tomorrow:
EURACOAL supports a climate and energy policy based on accelerated technological progress through near-term research, innovation and entrepreneurship within a non-discriminatory, technology-neutral, competitive market place that delivers a wide portfolio of sustainable, low-carbon solutions which consumers are willing to pay for.
Coal’s contribution to progress will be reliable and affordable electricity from power plants that are now cleaner than ever before. The coal sector is already pushing forward new energy storage options; new processes that supply clean hydrogen; and a circular-carbon economy that allows any carbon-based material, including plastic wastes and woody biomass, to be recycled into new products, without carbon emissions.
This week in Poland, Katowice hosts the XI European Economic Congress, the largest such event in Central Europe.
The first day included an interesting debate on “Power and power generation – revolution, regulations and market”. Panellists, including the EURACOAL President and Chairman of the Board of the Polish Mining Group (PGG), Mr. Tomasz Rogala, expressed their views on rising energy prices, the roll out of renewable energy sources (RES) and power-sector investments, as well as on the overall security of Europe’s energy system. Other speakers included Mr. Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, the Lithuanian Minister of Energy, Mr. Krzysztof Tchórzewski, the Minister of Energy in Poland, and not forgetting Mr. Dominique Ristori, the Director-General for Energy at the European Commission.
Mr. Vaičiūnas spoke on Lithuania’s similarities with Poland as the country diversifies energy supply with new interconnectors between Lithuania and Poland, a LNG regasification terminal and innovative projects on the use of LNG in industry and transport. Mr. Tchórzewski emphasised that Poland was in a difficult situation due to the its dependence on coal, linked as it is to past decisions on the development of the Polish energy sector. He explained that Poland, unlike Hungary, Lithuania and Czechoslovakia, never developed nuclear power. In 1990, when Poland regained its independence, 99.5% of the country’s electricity came from coal. Since then, Poland has led Europe to reduce CO2 emissions, but remains in a transition that will take time – by 2040 coal’s share might still be 30%, according to the government’s strategy. Mr. Ristori responded that the Commission recognises Poland’s different situation, noting the importance of helping Poland with renewables and a “just transformation”, especially in Silesia as mines close. He underscored the importance of a long-term, decarbonisation strategy in order to push forward competitive European technologies.
EURACOAL President Rogala raised several issues:
Changes in Europe that reminded him more of political revolution then evolution. He noted that coal production in the EU had fallen by 65% since 1990 (on an energy basis). He stressed that the ongoing political revolution meant far-reaching pressures on the indigenous coal industry, resulting in coal imports growing to 166 million tonnes in 2018 and coal mining jobs leaking out of Europe. “This builds up some kind of distrust towards state authorities and EU bodies that manage the policy”, he lamented.
Referring to the huge use of coal globally, the EU’s negative trade balance with China and generally weak climate and environmental laws outside the EU, he was concerned about European industrial competitiveness. As a country at the EU’s border, he remarked that Poland was acutely aware of these issues. He called for some kind of border tax on products from countries with less strict climate mitigation measures.
On clean coal technologies, the efficiency and performance of modern coal power plants was impressive, he continued. Yet, an energy transformation was in progress, so he confirmed that PGG was on track with two exciting, new projects already submitted to the European Commission for support under the Coal Regions in Transition Platform initiative.
Mr. Rogala concluded with an appeal for a balanced, cautious approach to the transformation: a transfer of value into the EU and not the transfer of companies and jobs out of the EU.
Today in Brussels, the EURACOAL President, Tomasz Rogala who is also Chairman of the Polish Mining Group (PGG), spoke alongside Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation in the European Commission, at a seminar on the future of coal and steel research supported by the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS).
Mr. Rogala spoke on the importance of the coal industry’s value chain and his belief in clean coal technologies. Following the experience gained with a full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the Boundary Dam coal power plant in Canada, he showed that the specific costs of second-generation CCS technologies should be 67% lower (per tonne of CO2). Separately, his own company was making progress with coal gasification as an alternative to conventional combustion processes – fully supporting the circular economy.
Mr. Rogala used the opportunity to launch a new publication of the EU-supported CoalTech2051 project, “Changing the face of coal: an outline strategic research agenda for future coal-related RTD in the European Union” and present a short video on coal from the European Coal and Steel Community treaty signed in 1951 to the modern clean coal technologies that will be needed between now and 2051.
Thanks to Europe’s largest coking coal company, JSW, participants at the seminar could experience a virtual reality application (VR MINE) for training operators of mining equipment such as coal shearers in a simulated underground mine.
In her opening remark, Signe Ratso highlighted the importance of the coal and steel industries, they being part of Europe’s industrial base which employs 36 million people: 300 thousand direct jobs in the steel sector and over 230 thousand in the regionalised coal sector. She looked towards “breakthrough innovations” as these will be fundamental for a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous planet and will allow the European Union to be a leader on climate change mitigation. In this respect, she was pleased that a political agreement had just been reached on the content of the proposed €100 billion Horizon Europe RTD programme that will run from 2021 to 2027.
Research will be vital to solve the challenges facing the coal industry, notably decarbonisation to meet the targets of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement. In the steel industry, over capacity, unfair competition, falling demand and decarbonisation are all big challenges. The use of hydrogen for steel making, coal gasification for the polygeneration of power, multifuels and chemicals, and alternative uses of coal are all seen by the European Commission as important. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be critical, especially as over one quarter of global energy comes from coal, Ms. Ratso observed.
To help explain her thinking, she quoted Jean Monnet, “We are not forming coalitions of states, we are uniting men.” Hence, social fairness would be needed when modernising the industrial regions of Europe in what she called a “just transition”. With a certain optimism, the recalled that 2019 was the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. The European Commission wants to replicate his spirit in its RTD strategy as part of a new European Renaissance, she concluded.
The renowned architect, Philippe Samyn, brought another perspective on how Europe should innovate. In summary, he believes that steel can be used more effectively by using less of it and gave examples of beautiful, light-weight building designs where grammes of high-quality steel mattered, not tonnes of heavy steel sections. He was critical of EU building standards, specifically insulation standards which had led to, “indecent, sick buildings spreading like a cancer over Europe and unnecessary certificates of all kinds”. Instead of energy efficient buildings with sealed, double-glazed windows in thick, ugly walls which used far more material than needed, he spoke of energy self-sufficiency. Super-light buildings with heat pumps was the future, he said, agreeing that a new Renaissance was already in progress where no innovative ideas should be dismissed, especially by ill-informed officials.
In his summing up, the Director for Industrial Technologies in DG Research, Peter Droell, insisted that future innovations must fit with the EU’s overarching climate policy objective of decarbonisation. Here, he noted that the reducing cost of technologies such as CCS was good news as many options would be needed. He wanted the coal research community to feel as engaged with saving the planet as did the school children who campaigned each week in Brussels.
The Polish coal industry was a major sponsor of the UNFCCC COP24 climate conference held in Katowice during the first two weeks of December 2018.
On 13 December, EURACOAL members joined a panel on coal gasification in the Polish Pavilion, chaired by Prof. Stanisław Prusek of the Central Mining Institute (GIG).
He explained that coal gasification was not a new idea, with more than fifty years’ development including intense activities during World War II and the apartheid years in South Africa.
Mr. Waldemar Łagoda of the Polish Ministry of Energy presented Poland’s latest draft energy strategy. Poland’s heavy dependence on coal will decline, but coal-based power generation will remain important as electricity demand increases. He said Poland should not be punished for this, noting that the country had already reduced its CO2 emissions by 30% since 1990 when 98% of power generation was based on coal. Pollutant emissions have also decreased significantly. The energy mix for power generation will continue to change, with coal’s share declining from today’s 77%-78% to 32% in 2040, according to the strategy which is open for consultation. The growth in low-carbon energy sources – nuclear and RES – will allow average emissions to fall to 550 gCO2/kWh in 2035, requiring new infrastructure and new approaches to energy storage, coal gasification, syngas production and hydrogen use.
EURACOAL President, Tomasz Rogala, believes that coal gasification is a logical approach in a world that uses 7.5 billion tonnes of coal each year. Talk in Europe of phasing out coal seems unreasonable, he said, presenting gasification as the right response for four reasons:
Investment in gasification responds to market signals and the increasing pressure to cut emissions from fossil fuel use.
Poland’s heavy reliance on coal means investment to reduce net emissions from the energy sector is essential to fight climate change.
New investments, supported by the EU Coal Regions in Transition Platform, can have positive benefits for the local economy, jobs and the environment.
Gasification results in increased efficiency and offers a way to recycle waste materials which contributes to a more circular economy
Mr. Rogala called for a broad coalition of the coal sector with municipalities, regional stakeholders, the chemical sector and consumers. He envisages a six-year plan to bring gasification alive at PGG sites such as Ziemowit and Jankowice. He concluded his positive message by noting how a country with one of most competitive economies in the world has embraced coal gasification, namely China.
Prof. Aleksander Sobolewski from the Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal (IChPW) in Zabrze spoke on the global development of gasification technologies, suggesting that the 550 gCO2/kWh emission performance standard (EPS) proposed by the European Commission as part of its Clean Energy package means that commercial gasification with fuel cells (IGFC) must be developed. He opined that the concept of decarbonisation was wrong: carbon will be needed by the chemical and other industries in the future, so policy should focus on low-emission technologies such as polygeneration for power and ethanol production with zero emissions and CO2 sequestration in useful chemicals.
Prof. Prusek added here the achievements in gasification at the Central Mining Institute (GIG) in Katowice, including the results of analysis used to select coals for gasification. He observed that fluidised-bed reactors were the most suitable for PGG’s gasification projects, a view confirmed by Mr. Wojciech Książkiewicz representing the US technology company SES. Mr. Paweł Górski of Węglokoks Energia expressed his hope that Enea would go ahead with its IGCC project and said that Węglokoks itself was planning a small project that should achieve the 550 gCO2/kWh EPS.
During the discussion panel, Prof. Sobolewski said that the necessary research had all been done. What was needed were political decisions based on the feasibility studies now underway. Mr. Rogala agreed, explaining that technology development is part of everyday work in his mines where equipment becomes more and more automated with the transformation to Industry 4.0. PGG, he said, would pursue all options at its sites, including solar PV, but progress with coal gasification was a must in Poland.
Impressions from COP24
Greenpeace in action
The Japanese Pavilion sponsored by Panasonic
The Indian Pavilion
The Polish Mining Group PGG sponsored COP24
UN delegate greeted by a Polish coal miner
Russia’s green mosaic
African Union Commission – just one of many empty stands
MEP Jadwiga Wiśniewska (ECR, PL)
Welcome to Poland
Marc Morano prepares to deliver coal to Greenpeace
Spodek and main entrance to COP24
Monument to the Scouts of September
The Indonesian Pavilion
The Polish Pavilion
The Indian Pavilion with high-tech robots
The Katowice Pavilion
To the Polish Pavilion
Black to Green transformation in Katowice
Black to Green transformation in Katowice
The eco-friendly German Pavilion
JSW coal company sponsored COP24
Former US Vice President, Al Gore, calls for climate action (again)
AQUA CO@L sparkling mine water by PGG
Scott Foster, Director – Sustainable Energy Division, UNECE and Dr. Lin Hongyu, Director of Cooperation Bureau, Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) speak on the “deep transformation” of the energy system through electricity
An empty press conference with the Minister of Investment and Development, Jerzy Kwienciński, to announce Poland’s intention to join the UN Global Compact Government Group on corporate social responsibility
The Nordic Pavilion
The Thai Pavilion
The South African Pavilion
The German Pavilion
The People’s Seat used by Sir David Attenborough
US delegation presents the Coal FIRST R&D initiative before NGOs protest: (L-R) Steve Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the US Department of Energy, Patrick Suckling, Australian Ambassador for the Environment, and Rich Powell, Executive Director of the ClearPath Foundation
On 30 November in Katowice, ahead of COP24, the Secretary General of EURACOAL spoke on behalf of members at the annual political dialogue of the Coal Regions in Transition Platform.
EURACOAL fully supports the platform and notes the good progress made by the European Commission in less than one year. Members are active with concrete project proposals, and the secretariat in Brussels is busy compiling a coal research agenda that fits with the European Commission’s long-term climate strategy, proposed just two days before the dialogue.
Twenty-two EU member states still use significant volumes of coal – each measured in millions of tonnes per year. EURACOAL represents coal users in these countries, but especially coal producers in the eleven member states that mine coal – 464 million tonnes in 2017.
The European coal industry has been in decline for decades. That decline has slowed recently (see p.34 in EU coal regions: opportunities and challenges ahead, EC Joint Research Centre report EUR 29292 EN, 2018), but will speed up again with the mine closure plans now proposed by industry. No other sector has contributed as much in terms of CO2 emission reductions since 1990. Economics has driven this decline – beginning with competition from North Sea gas in Western Europe and the collapse of uncompetitive industry in Eastern Europe.
In a perfect world, wind power and solar PV would now be replacing coal. Sadly, they are neither fully competitive nor reliable. Better, more economic alternatives to coal will come along in good time. In the meantime, we have to make the best use of what we have. The EU Emissions Trading System will take care of carbon emissions and the coal industry can operate under its ceiling. There is no need to import natural gas to replace coal. The backup to renewables, the security of power supply, and the virtual storage of electricity can all be provided by coal power plants that are already built or are being built. No more big, new coal plants are needed, only an electricity market that properly rewards power plant availability. The Polish government has stated that the hard coal plants now under construction are the country’s last.
Europe should celebrate that the energy transition can be safe and secure, because we have coal in our “back pocket”. It will be a while before we can rely on 100% renewables, not least because they cannot deliver when needed; at least not until large-scale energy storage technologies are widely available.
As and when coal mines close, land must be restored and new jobs created. There is no hurry; it takes years to plan and implement land reclamation projects, after decades of mining. If we hurry, then these plans become impossible to execute, because the revenue from mining is not there to fund them.
The problems in Europe are nothing compared with elsewhere: 94% of coal is used outside of the EU (measured on an energy basis) and its use is growing for electricity generation. More and more people are benefitting from that. We must offer better ways to use coal, with lower CO2 emissions. If we do not, then our own climate action will be futile.
EURACOAL supports the inclusion of Ukraine in the Coal Platform. Pilot projects have been identified by the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy in the Donesk and Lviv regions. By sharing our experience, we can help transform these industrial regions of Ukraine.
R&D into new technologies will be crucial there and elsewhere, such as the gasification of coal with wastes to produce liquid fuels that can be stored and used to meet demand peaks. In the US, the coal industry and the government are looking to build smaller, more flexible, more efficient coal power plants. In Japan – also a big coal user – hydrogen from coal catches the imagination of what is possible and what is needed to reduce CO2 emissions.
There is much to do under the Coal Platform. EURACOAL hopes that politicians, policymakers and their advisors can all agree that those who work hard in the EU coal industry – over a third of a million – deserve our respect. Their days might be numbered, but they will see us through a few more decades of harsh winters to come.
Addressing the third working group meetings of the Coal Regions in Transition Platform in Brussels on 5 November 2018, EURACOAL President Rogala advised that, when talking of change in the coal mining sector, the conversation must reflect the importance and maturity of this sector’s value chain.
The Coal Platform is an initiative of the European Commission to assist regions who wish to transition away from coal.
Throughout the coal mining sector, he explained, engineers operate and maintain technically advanced equipment on a daily basis, while scientists search for ways to improve production processes and coal utilisation. Thus, the economic value to society as a whole goes beyond the supply of energy to include the creation of knowledge and competences.
According to Mr. Rogala, coal mining jobs in the Silesian region of Poland are well paid, exceeding average salaries there by 50%. During the transition, he expressed his concern that any new jobs would be less well paid. He also noted that municipalities are very dependent on local taxes and would suffer if income from the coal mining sector were to be lost. For example, in the first nine months of 2018, €575 million was paid in local and national taxes by his own company, the Polish Mining Group or PGG. The company has an annual turnover of over €2.6 billion, employing 42,000 people plus over 3,000 contractors. Beyond that, there are some 150,000 jobs at suppliers of equipment and services. Mr. Rogala estimated that equipment purchases alone were worth €220 million each year. He called for a socially responsible transformation, warning against the erosion of industry in regions such as Silesia as this could undermine citizens’ trust in authority and ultimately lead to radicalism.
On a positive note, he presented what is probably the largest welding shop in Central and Eastern Europe, part of the PGG group and employing skilled welders and machinists with all the latest equipment on a floor area of over 2 hectares. By developing such competencies – from design, production, finishing, supply and erection – PGG will be able to diversify and compete in new sectors such as automotive, rail and construction. Mr. Rogala expects this business to grow strongly in the short to medium term.
He concluded with a list of recommendations on the importance of the value chain linked to coal mining. This ensures stability and provides an opportunity for businesses to diversify into new areas in support of a successful transition with lower risks. The alternative would be costly, he said. The University of Economics in Katowice has calculated that over €50 billion would be needed simply to replace lost jobs in coal mining with jobs in other mature industrial sectors, such as automotive.
Responding to strident criticism from the many green NGOs present, EURACOAL President Rogala was open to a discussion on how coal could be replaced, but observed calmly that there were no viable alternatives currently on the table – only promises and rhetoric.
On 9 October at the European Parliament in Brussels, MEP Jadwiga Wiśniewska hosted trade unionists, industrialists and Secretary of State Tobiszowski for a conference on the Polish way to a clean environment. This aims to replace the concept of “decarbonisation” with one of “climate neutrality” whereby CO2 emissions are balanced by CO2 absorption in forests. EURACOAL was represented by President, Tomasz Rogala at this sequel to an earlier event in Katowice, Poland. He spoke on the climate challenge, balanced by the need to maintain energy security and economic competitiveness in the European Union.
Bringing together the mining trade union Solidarność, OPZZ (All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions) and the Trade Union Forum (FZZ) with professionals from SITG (Association of Mining Engineers and Technicians), the think-tank Górnictwo OK (Mining OK) and coal mining companies, the conference aimed to influence the Parliament position in the lead up to the UN COP24 climate conference in Katowice.
Speakers called for a serious reflection on climate policy and its impact on future generations. Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Secretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Energy, said that,
“We should put more emphasis on the primacy of economic competitiveness and the development of modern, clean coal technologies, because we in Europe are slowly losing our leading position.”
He spoke on the need of a common, global effort on climate, which he felt was lacking after the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol back in 2011.
MEP Wiśniewska described the Paris Agreements as “a climate constitution for the globe”, but as with any piece of legislation, it can only work if fully implemented with verified efforts by all countries. A current resolution of the Parliament calls for a “zero-emission” EU economy by 2050 which she saw as too restrictive. Given the negative perception of those that do not fully support such ambitious climate goals, her decision not to sign the resolution was a political risk.
Solidarność leader, Kazimierz Grajcarek, explained that the trade unions do not act “against” anything, adding that,
“We want to live in a clean environment. The problem is that when speaking about the climate, people and science are very rarely mentioned.”
From the University of Economics in Katowice, Dr. Magdalena Wójcik-Jurkiewicz presented a study on the cost of energy transition in Silesia. With a new job requiring an average of PLN 1.2 million (€280 000), the cost of replacing 200 000 lost jobs in mining would reach around PLN 200 billion or €50 billion. Dr Paweł Bogacz of the AGH University of Science and Technology, representing the “Mining OK” initiative, spoke about the impossibility of using only renewables during the energy transition; energy security demanded reliable sources such as coal which also happens to contribute to the national economy.
The event was well attended with numerous MEPs including: Vice-President Zdzisław Krasnodębski; the Former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Fotyga; Ryszard Legutko; Czesław Hoc; Urszula Krupa; and Prof. Adam Gierek from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
A common statement by the Polish trade unions on the costs and benefits of climate policies was published alongside the events in Katowice and Brussels (click images to download in Polish or English). The unions call for a full assessment of all climate-related policies to date in terms of ecological effects and socio-economic impacts.
At the request of the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission of Ukraine (NEURC), EURACOAL has given its opinion on an official coal-pricing methodology introduced in 2016. The coal price is used when setting regulated electricity tariffs in Ukraine.
The EURACOAL report concludes that the choice of marker price is correct, the “all‑publications index (API) #2 is a transparent and appropriate measure of the import parity price for coal in Ukraine. The transport cost add-on in the so-called Rotterdam+ price formula is an approximation that accounts for the higher cost of delivering coal to ports in Ukraine compared with to ports in northwest Europe. Adding a transport cost delta to the indexed price to arrive at an import parity price means that future variations in coal and transport costs can be captured.
The API #2 coal price index is a combination of the prices reported independently by two commercial providers of coal-market information in the Argus/McCloskey Coal Price Index Report. Specifically, API #2 reflects the price of steam coal imported into northwest Europe at three major ports: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp (ARA). The collection and reporting of the underlying price data is trusted by market participants around the world and the methodology used is fully specified and properly scrutinised.
Ukraine’s coal import needs are slightly complicated by the requirement for low-volatile coal, such as anthracite, at some Ukrainian power stations. The international market for such coal is shallow, with few marker prices. Given the difficulty in establishing a fair market price for this coal, a premium could be added to the steam coal price marker to cover the additional cost of importing low-volatile coal.
In conclusion, EURACOAL’s overall assessment of the NEURC coal-pricing methodology is positive.
A brand new exhibition on coal, hosted at the European Parliament in Strasbourg by MEP Jadwiga Wiśniewska, was opened on 11 September 2018 by Mr. Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Secretary of State for Energy in Poland. The EURACOAL President, Mr. Tomasz Rogala, who also chairs the Polish Mining Group (PGG), was on hand to explain why coal will remain an important component of Europe’s energy mix for some years to come.
Find out more about the exhibition at the BE CO@L website.
photos: NETTG.PL / Witold Gałązka
“Mining is not everything, but without mining everything is nothing.”
At the 10th European Economic Congress, held on 14-16 May 2018 at the International Conference Centre and Spodek in Katowice, many important issues concerning the mining and energy sectors were discussed. Alongside the Polish Energy Minister, Krzysztof Tchórzewski, and the Deputy Energy Minister, Grzegorz Tobiszewski, participants on the key panels included, Tomasz Rogala, CEO of Polska Grupa Górnicza (PGG – Polish Mining Group) and President of EURACOAL, as well as the First Vice President of EURACOAL, Vladimír Budinský and Janusz Olszowski, the President of the Polish Mining Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GIPH) which is a member of EURACOAL. Thanks to them, the voice of the coal was loudly heard during the European Economic Congress.
“Energy industry in Europe: dilemmas and challenges”
On the first day of the Congress, EURACOAL President Rogala participated in a panel on the dilemmas and challenges faced by the energy industry in Europe. Other participants on the panel included the Energy Minister, members of the European Parliament and leaders of Polish and international energy companies. The mechanics of capacity markets, digitalisation, decentralisation of power generation, decarbonisation of the economy, the challenges of the energy transition and many other hot topics were debated.
“In the energy industry, we are facing a lot of challenges, which concern Poland as well as all the other European Union countries. It is hard for us in this race. We were occupied countries in Europe, our development was delayed. Therefore, treating us now equally with others in terms of requirements is not really fair. We truly intend to follow. We hear accusations of being reluctant about RES. It is not the case. We are simply much poorer than you, in the old European Union.” Energy Minister Tchórzewski
Minister Tchórzewski compared the costs of renewable energy sources (RES) with those of health care which are incurred by citizens in the form of taxes. He noted, however, that conventional, thermal power generation must be ready and available when RES do not work. This, however, means that conventional plants no longer run all of the time at “base load”, so they cannot earn enough to cover their costs. This gap has to be filled. He added that a way to do this is with capacity markets, which solves the problem of a back-up reserve for RES and allows implementation on a broad scale.
“If we are heading towards a direction where coal is not the main source of energy, post-mining areas need to be restructured. This required huge funding, with at least a 50% share of subsidies from the EU programmes.” Energy Minister Tchórzewski
The EURACOAL President, Tomasz Rogala, reminded everybody that EU member states have nuclear power, RES and fossil fuels, with a very significant production of lignite (383 million tonnes in 2017).
“Last year, coal imports in to the EU were at the level of 173 million tonnes, with Spain and the Netherlands seeing an increase by over a dozen percent in the consumption of these fuels. The power demand grew to such an extent that, last year, more electric power had to be produced from solid fuels. 173 million tonnes of coal had to be imported. This coal created jobs outside Europe, while its combustion and its impacts were located in Europe. Whether such an approach is justified is an open question.” EURACOAL President Rogala
He explained that countries that have developed quickly with coal, are not giving up on coal as a source of cheap energy. In spite of China’s huge domestic coal production – 3.5 billion tonnes or half the world’s total – the country also imports coal. Import demand there and elsewhere is met by Australian, Indonesian, Russian and South American producers.
“We are appealing for prudence, for arranging solutions in a reasonable time, so that it is profitable for European producers and does not result in the imports of hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal in to Europe.” EURACOAL President Rogala
At the same time, he addressed the trilemma of marrying climate action with energy security and economic afforability.
“As for the trilemma, after two days of blackouts, it would become clear which part of the triangle is the most important.”
Showing a modern smartphone, the head of EURACOAL made everybody aware:
“Fast-developing countries do not give up on coal as a source of cheap energy. We all have these devices, made in countries that do not have such low-emission standards. We, as EURACOAL, would like you to think about that.”
He emphasised the fact that impressive emission reductions had already been reached and the latest technologies allow coal to be used in environmentally safe ways. He agreed that RES are beyond question, but depend on huge subsidies.
“If they are effective, they will simply supplant coal; it will be up to consumers.” EURACOAL President Rogala
“How to ensure Poland’s energy security in the medium and long term?”
On the second day of the Congress, topics related to energy and mining industries were further discussed by speakers on a panel devoted to Poland’s energy security in the medium and long term. Both Krzysztof Tchórzewski, the Energy Minister and Tomasz Rogala, CEO of Polska Grupa Górnicza and EURACOAL President, participated.
“Securing energy supplies and system stability are the priorities in the country’s long-term energy policy. Poland is developing dynamically, its energy demand is growing, while at the same time the existing reserve capacity is not sufficient. Therefore, it will be necessary to create new sources and to modernise existing ones, in order to secure a stable supply consistent with increased demand.” Energy Minister Tchórzewski
The panel participants also emphasised the role of building energy security for the country and care for the environmental aspects of the energy industry.
“Nuclear power will, on the other hand, significantly reduce the level of energy sector emissions by counterbalancing the emissions of the coal sector, which is the basis of our energy supply system.
“In ten years’ time, the demand for energy in Poland will be 20% higher than today. Coal will still play an important part in the energy mix. The importance of scattered, prosumer power suppliers will also increase.
“For many years, the consumption of coal will grow, as we are commissioning new power units. Kozienice requires 2 million tonnes of coal annually, then two units at Opole and one at Jaworzno. New power plants are at least 20% more efficient and they meet the latest emission standards. As for the old plants, we are not shutting them down yet. After 2021, when we do close down the old units, the demand for the raw material will start decreasing to the level more or less close to that of 2017.” Energy Minister Tchórzewski
He added that Polska Grupa Górnicza is currently able to sell all the coal that it produces.
There is no respect for numbers …
The host of the panel, Michał Niewiadomski from the „Rzeczpospolita” newspaper, asked Mr. Rogala how the coal business should be managed if, as the Minister says, more coal will be needed for the new power units, but Poland will not be able to produce it, unless it invests in new seams.
EURACOAL President Rogala emphasised that it is worth looking back a few years when the main message was that less coal would be needed as other energy sources would replace it, so production cuts were prepared. He reminded participants that, not so long ago, coal producers were pressed to reduce plans for new faces at coal mines, because that was the trend. Today, it is different, he said.
“Now, we are in 2018, and in 2017 coal imports to Europe were 173 million tonnes. Like Poland, other countries increased imports, some by 30%. What does this tell us? It tells us that we are poor at planning in Europe. If 173 million tonnes were divided among a number of coal mines, it would support about half a million jobs that are currently outside the EU, while the environmental burden remains within Europe. We more often use slogans than numbers. The coal mining sector, where investments are for two to seven years, must know what the demand will be for coal. If, in two or three years, there were to be a period of over-supply with low prices which caused a reduction of production at PGG and the closure of say ten million tonnes of production capacity, nobody could simply reverse that within a couple of years. We seem to have a lack of respect for the numbers.” EURACOAL President Rogala
He pointed to the fact that sudden changes in demand for energy cannot be compensated for by the mining sector as its fixed costs are high in relation to its variable costs.
“We have to sell our whole production output, rather than increasing inventory, because preparing a stockyard for five million tonnes of coal costs a billion złoty which we cannot afford. Changes in energy demand should be covered by sources with low fixed costs.”
EURACOAL President Rogala
He also warned against attributing a too high economic value to emotions which, as he put it, are wrapped up in words such as “green” and “modern”.
“Coal regions in transition: the Silesia region – vision and projects”
The panel on coal regions in transition, notably the vision and projects in the Silesia region, was dedicated to issues such as regional development plans, advanced coal technologies, e-mobility potential and wind power. Speakers included Vladimír Budinský, First Vice President of EURACOAL, and Grzegorz Tobiszowski, the Deputy Minister of Energy. The whole panel agreed that co-operation within the European Union, both in the fields of financing and law, was a precondition for the modernisation of the Polish mining industry. According to the experts, current climate policy assumptions do not mean that the world will move away from coal.
“However, projects related to new technologies will be supported: export of knowledge on those technologies to countries where coal is mined with a low level of technological knowledge will also be significant.” EURACOAL First Vice President Budinský
Deputy Minister Grzegorz Tobiszowski added that a perfect opportunity to present investments in Upper Silesia, that can be a model for other mining regions in Europe, will be at the UNFCCC COP 24 organised in December 2018 in Katowice.
“It is a challenge that has combined the national administration with local administrations which sit at the table together with the European Commission. We will receive a certain framework from the Commission that our projects have to fit within. By mid-June, we will have filled in this framework with our projects and we already have several dozen of them, so we are now trying to combine them.” Deputy Energy Minister Tobiszowski
“Polish coal – the perspective to 2030”
On the third day of the Congress, there was a discussion on the role of coal in the economy and power generation, as well as on the new technologies that will secure mining for the future.
“The term “Polish coal” was not accidentally chosen for the Congress and the perspective to 2030 was not accidental either. We did the right thing to shift the emphasis to vision, as the perspective is a vision, and since we are talking about vision – what should it be? We are no longer asking “if” but “how”. If coal mining is such hard work, then we should not be doing it in an unfair, inefficient way and without seeing any sense in it. Therefore, it is important to talk about perspectives. Since 1989, we have not had any theses about how much coal we need on the Polish market. Because of that, it was hard to plan any investments.” Deputy Energy Minister Tobiszowski
Tomasz Rogala, CEO of Polska Grupa Górnicza and President of EURACOAL, spoke about maintaining the current levels of production – whether it was possible and under which conditions.
“The key is stability, which is built mainly through the long-term contracts that we have proposed to the market and a price corridor that gives us information on our long-term revenues. The long term is needed so that the company can be transformed and adjusted to future conditions. Some customers bought imported coal, because it was cheaper, and then, when prices increased, they turned to PGG and demanded their needs be met. What is really important is predictability and the ability to maintain profitability as a consequence of good planning.” EURACOAL President Rogala
Panel participants also talked about the role of coal in the world.
“The global trends are clear. Opposite to the opinions of some media pundits who say that coal is a relic, coal is doing fine globally. In the last few years, coal production in the world reached about seven billion tonnes and increased by about 200 million tonnes in 2017. As for lignite, its production has been stable for many years now at around 800 million tonnes per year.” Janusz Olszowski, President of the Polish Mining Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GIPH)
The European Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package of proposals is an important step towards a properly functioning internal market for electricity, this being an objective that EURACOAL fully supports. However, the good progress made to date might be jeopardised if capacity mechanisms are subject to an emission performance standard.
The proposal is diametrically opposite to the EU’s objective of creating a competitive, technology-neutral, non-discriminatory internal electricity market.
It would favour investment in expensive, new gas-fired power stations to replace the existing coal stations that already balance renewables and ensure reliable power.
With more expensive, imported gas, electricity supply would become more expensive and less secure.
The electricity sector would be subject to a pointless double regulation, without actually reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: the sector’s emissions are already capped by the cost-efficient EU emissions trading system (ETS) to meet politically agreed targets.
EU member states would lose their sovereign right to determine their own energy mixes (Art.194 TFEU).
The European Commission’s proposal to deny access to capacity markets by setting an emission performance standard of 550 gCO2/kWh should be rejected.
Read EURACOAL’s position here and refer also to the similar positions of EURELECTRIC, representing power utilities, ENTSO-E, representing transmission system operators, CEER, representing regulators, EFET, representing energy traders, and BusinessEurope.