The Energy Crisis Pushes Poland to Delay Closing Coal Plants

The role fossil fuels such as coal and oil played in human industrialization cannot be understated. These fuels allowed us to finally break free of our energy limitations and develop into a modernized society. However, several countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe have begun efforts to scale down fossil-fuel energy in exchange for more sustainable alternatives.

Fossil fuels such as oil and coal may have played a major role in human advancement, but they are also responsible for the existential threat of climate change. Efforts to replace these fuels with alternatives such as solar and wind energy were well underway across Europe before Russia invaded Ukraine and plunged the region into an unprecedented energy crisis.

Russia cut natural-gas supplies to the interior of Europe in response to western sanctions against the Kremlin, leading to an energy crunch that has driven up the cost of nearly everything. One other consequence of the energy crisis is that several European countries, including Poland, have been forced to scale back their green-energy initiatives amid crippling natural-gas shortages and increasing energy prices.

Poland won’t just be putting its plans to shut down already-existing coal plants on hold, it will be expanding coal production and is expected to launch two new coal-production facilities. With winter fast approaching, European nations are scrambling for an affordable energy source that could keep their populations warm over the coming cold months.

Poland, which already generates 70% of its power using coal, planned to close all local coal mines by 2049 and reduce coal-produced power to 11%—27% of the entire grid by 2040. But it seems as if the European country is putting a pause on these plans amid the global energy crisis and a fast-approaching winter.

Climate minister Anna Moskwa said in a recent interview that the demand for coal was growing even before the Russia-Ukraine war and that the unprovoked invasion exacerbated an already deteriorating situation. As such, the minister noted, Poland is looking to increase coal production and is even planning to begin mining in new locations.

Moskwa said that although Poland is committed to a nuclear energy future, with the country’s first nuclear plants expected to begin operation in 2023, the country needs to shore up its energy deficits in the meantime. Until Poland’s nuclear power plants begin operation, Moskwa said that the country will not be shutting down any operational coal power plants.

State assets minister Jacek Sasin said in a recent interview that the country still plans on closing its coal plants by 2049 but will have to revise its schedule for when each power plant is closed. Such measures taken by Poland and other affected countries show why coal extraction companies such as Warrior Met Coal Inc. (NYSE: HCC) still have a market to serve until greener forms of energy are readily available.

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