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19 July 2012

Ghost power plant causes friction in EU

One of many Polish coal powered plants

Poland has outraged the rest of Europe by exploiting the Emissions trading system through the creation of phantom power plants. The Polish government has applied for €33 million in emissions credits as part of the ‘grandfathering’ EUETS scheme, but it is alleged that at least one of the coal power plants they have applied for the allowances does not yet exist.

The current regulations mean that power plants with a ‘physically initiated’ investment process before a cut off date of 31 December 2008 can be issued permits rather than having to buy them. Yet the power station supposedly situated in Lecna has no signs of construction taking place even now, and is currently open green space.

Chris Davies, UK Liberal Democrat MEP says, "The dirty tricks brigade is out and there's an attempt to cheat the system. I think there will be enormous anger if the European Commission finds ways of stretching or re-interpreting the rules to accommodate Poland.”

According to the environmental group Client Earth, the plant and several others they were investigating had not even had building permits issued by the cut off date. "When you see an empty field without any other works there, it is obvious that the process was not physically initiated by the cut-off date three years ago, and the Polish application is not valid," says Marcin Stoczkiewicz, a lawyer for Client Earth.

The Polish environment ministry has responded by saying that it was not able to check all the installations, and that it would stand by any ruling made by the European Commission.

From 2013 all power companies will have to buy their allowances through auction rather than getting them granted for free. The ‘10c’ rule as it is known, was designed to ‘smooth’ this transition for the new EU member countries, who might suffer disproportionately as a result of the change. The money provided as part of this would go towards reducing emissions. It seems however, that a certain amount of exploitation has taken place.

Poland is a key part of the emissions reductions measures despite being a ‘new’ member of the EU, mainly because it produces 95 per cent of its energy from coal. It is also blocking the EU low emission roadmap, aiming for 80-95 per cent cuts in emissions by 2050. When questioned, the Polish government say this is because it wants to protect industry.

An EU commission decision on the irregularities in some countries will be made shortly.

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