Europe’s most polluting coal-fired power station set to close

Massive Belchatow power plant in Poland as part of shift towards greener energy

Europe’s most polluting coal-fired power station set to close

Europe’s most polluting coal-fired power station, the Belchatow power plant in Poland, has announced plans for its closure.

The state-run Polish Energy Group said it will gradually decommission the plant, which produces 27–28 terawatt hours of electricity per year, between 2030 and 2036.

The company also said it will end the exploitation of lignite deposits – also known as brown coal, which comes from a neighbouring strip mine.

Lignite is one of the most polluting types of coal, due to its low density, requiring huge quantities to be burnt to generate energy.

The facility, south west of Lodz, Poland’s third-largest city, produces around 20 per cent of the total power generation for the whole country.

The enormous building, over three quarters of a kilometre long, has chimneys standing over 900 feet in height, making them among the tallest free-standing structures in Poland.

The decision to close comes as the Lodz region applies for EU funding under the bloc’s Just Transition Fund, which aims to help communities transition to a more environmentally friendly way of living and carbon-neutral economy.

Poland still generates the majority of its energy from coal, but like other countries, is coming under increased pressure to move to renewable sources.

Wojciech Dąbrowski, the chief executive of PGE said: “We very much want the Łódzkie Voivodship to be able to access EU funding for just transition.

“Setting the dates for shutting down the energy units at the plant in Bełchatów and ending extraction at the lignite deposits Bełchatów and Szczercow and thus also withdrawing from the plan to mine the Zloczew deposit are of fundamental significance from the viewpoint of planning the future of the Bełchatow energy complex, its employees and the region’s residents.”

He added: “They are also symbolic because the success of Polish energy transition will largely depend on the outcome of this project.”

Announcing the creation of the Just Transition Fund in December 2020, the EU’s commissioner for cohesion and reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The Just Transition Fund is a crucial instrument for the delivery of the European Green Deal. It is also at the heart of cohesion policy’s mission to make sure that no one is left behind, while we progress towards a greener and more competitive Europe.”