Czech Republic Takes Poland to Court over Turów Mine 25-30 Square Kilometres Extension

The mine which falls in the Czech-Polish border has raised anxiety about safe drinking water among the Czechs and energy security among the Polish; the EU Court may order Poland to suspend operations temporarily

The Czech Republic has filed a case against Poland in the European Court of Justice after the latter decided to extend mining operations at an open-pit coal mine until 2044. The mine is located in Turów which lies at the Czech-Polish border and has been a source of contention because of its impact on drinking water for the Czech population.

It is possible that the EU court could order the Polish government to temporarily suspend operations. This has been a source of considerable anxiety for the Polish authorities. The Turów mine and its power plant supply approximately 5% of Poland’s total electricity demand. A shutdown could negatively impact 2.3 million families without any immediate alternative insight.

PGE, the Polish state-owned enterprise which is at the center of the legal tussle, said: “The Turów coal mine and power plant complex is strategic for ensuring the energy security of Poland. A potential shutdown would obviously shake up the Polish energy system, which will not be able to quickly replace the decommissioned generation capacity.”

The coal industry has been under intense pressure internationally due to steadily rising carbon emission prices in the EU’s carbon market. Agora Energiewende released a report recently that found that most lignite units owned by the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland will cease to generate profits as soon as 2025. The price of carbon emissions has already touched €50 per tonne, making coal increasingly unfeasible as a financially viable source of energy.

It is these three countries that have also been dragging their feet on phasing out coal in favor of more sustainable energy sources. While the Czech parliament is divided on the issue, Poland recently announced that it would shut its last coal mine in 2049 and Germany stated that it would phase coal out by 2038. However, these commitments may not be accepted since they do not align with the EU’s 2 °C warming limit of the Paris Agreement. Given Poland’s high dependence on coal for electricity, PGE believes it will take at least until 2050 to complete the transition despite their ambitious plans to develop renewable energy.

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