Defence Policy

Energetyka24: German Coalition Agreement to Hamper Development of the Polish Nuclear Powerplant


According to information we have obtained, the new German coalition agreement, concluded by and between the CDU/CSU and SPD political parties, contains fragments that could hamper development of the nuclear power sector in Poland. The new German government is supposedly going to make steps towards prohibiting the use of EU- and state-provided financial support in the new nuclear initiatives undertaken within the territory of the European Union. The above would constitute a “lethal” threat for the investment planned by Poland. The German objective is clear, as Berlin is willing to create more jobs in the Federal Republic of Germany, through development of the renewable energy sector, as well as through export of that energy.

Angela Merkel is expected to pay a visit to Poland on Monday. Warsaw is the second European capital city that is going to be visited by the Chancellor beginning her fourth term of office. The objective here is fairly clear, the visit is to project a message as follows: regardless of the political situation in Poland, the country is still a significant partner of Germany. This is caused, for instance, by a significant number of mutual financial transactions made between the nations. Unfortunately, Nord Stream 2 has been, for a long time now, viewed as a sword of Damocles, hanging over the Polish-German talks. The pipeline in question may become a factor which would solidify the domination of Gazprom on the European gas market for decades to come. Meanwhile, according to the information obtained by us, the relations between Berlin and Warsaw may suddenly get worse, due to the shape the coalition agreement concluded by and between the German CDU/CSU and SPD political parties. The parties in question have formed the new German government, letting Angela Merkel become the chancellor in Germany, for the fourth time.

The plans made by Berlin seemed to be reasonable, however major problems have emerged with regards to their implementation. Firstly, the costs of the Energiewende programme turned out to be astronomical. No option is available to store the energy, which led to a situation in which, on days without sufficient wind, the wind turbines would not generate sufficient amount of power. The system is being stabilized with the Russian gas imported via Nord Stream. And this is just a tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, the “green revolution” strategy implementation is being continued. Why is that happening?

Not only does the Energiewende marketing concern the ecological factors, but it also applies to business (export of wind turbines and solar panels) and geopolitics (energy independence). Germany, using its economic power, has started to influence the EU institutions. All of that is aimed at introduction of regulations that would be favourable for the renewable energy. However, the whole process would take place by going through a back door. Ultimately, Berlin would force other EU member states to transform their energy industry in a way which would match the German model. For that reason the EU climate policy is the most strict one, globally. Secondly, the above forces Poland to implement in-depth decarbonization measures, making the Polish energy industry step away from coal.

The hypocrisy of the EU policy is clearly seen in case of the nuclear power. Here it is evident that the European Union’s regulation are directly derived from the German effort to promote the renewable energy. Even though the nuclear power is a zero-emission energy source, steps are being made in order to eliminate it from the European Agenda. The new coalition agreement concluded by and between CDU/CSU and SPD may be viewed as a good example of the above. Here are some fragments which read as follows:

“In the EU we will demand that the objectives of the Euratom Treaty pertaining to the use of the nuclear energy shall be adjusted to the future challenges. We do not want any support provided for the new nuclear power plants through use of the EU funding. We want to put an end to the state funding in the nuclear power plants abroad in a consequent manner (...) Embedding the Energiewende in the European context creates an opportunity to cut the cost and make use of the synergy phenomenon. We want extra possibilities to develop and grow the job market in Germany to emerge, along with export opportunities for the German companies on the international markets”.

The new government led by Merkel will be talking blunt, as it seems. The politicians do not hide the fact that due to the Germany’s economic goals they will be trying to stop the new nuclear energy initiatives in Europe right in their tracks, by depriving them of the support required, with simultaneous provision of equivalent support for the renewable energy. Even though the nuclear power is environment friendly and it may reduce the emissions for instance in Poland, Berlin is going to relentlessly fight against them. Why? Because Germany has made significant investments in the area of renewable energy, while the German factories specializing in generation of energy need to export their product to the remaining EU countries.

All of the above means that the first Polish nuclear power station may fall a victim to the German strategy. At the moment the project is being developed, while the issue of financing (70-75 billion zlotys is the amount in question) is of absolute relevance here. It is hard to imagine that such investment would be finalized without any state support. It is also difficult to imagine that other energy sources are established without such assistance.

To make matters worse, the coalition agreement concluded in Germany in order to combat the nuclear power may have a strong ally. In the second half of this year Austria would begin its presidency in the EU. This country specializes itself in renewable energy and is actively acting against the nuclear initiatives, similarly to Germany. The Austrian government has been trying to block financing of the British Hinkley Point C power station, suggesting that the Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C (guaranteeing a defined energy price) is an impermissible means of state support. The European Commission approved the aforesaid mechanism. Austria is now trying to stop the Hungarian nuclear project in Paks.

As we can see, there is a good chance that Vienna would support Berlin in the process of stopping the development of the nuclear energy sector in the EU. Poland would fall victim of the aforesaid actions. It shall also be recalled that Austria was the last country to be involved in transnational consulting with regards to the Polish nuclear power plant. These were, probably, deliberate activities aimed at delaying the investment.

The Russians may benefit from the issue described above, which shall be emphasized here. The gas they provide seems to be an indispensable asset in the process of stabilizing the energy transformation process taking place in the EU countries following the Energiewende formula. Gas is a low-emission source which may stabilize the energy scheme, until commercial energy storage systems are invented. 

Piotr Maciążek