PGE wins in electricity plant court appeal but project still in question
Polish utility PGE has won the latest round in a court case brought against it by environmental group ClientEarth over two planned 900MW coal-fired electricity generators at its Opole plant, but experts are still sceptical that the expansion will go ahead.
On Tuesday the provincial administrative court in Warsaw dismissed an appeal by ClientEarth, but its verdict can now be appealed in Poland's supreme administrative court.
ClientEarth based its case on the EU law requiring authorities to assess whether new coal-fired plants can apply carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The EU's CCS directive has still not been cemented into Polish law two years after the deadline to do so and CCS readiness was not included in the environmental impact assessment for the Opole expansion.
Future still uncertain
PGE vice-chairman Piotr Szymanek called the provincial court's verdict positive but said the company's management will not green-light the project until it is clear it cannot be scuppered by further legal action.
"Now we have to wait for the other side to act because everyone has the right to appeal", he said after the Warsaw administrative court announced its verdict.
Some Polish electricity sector analysts are sceptical whether the Opole project will go ahead at all. They say worsening economic conditions and weak Polish electricity prices could make it cost-inefficient. The added pressure from EU carbon trading compliance does not help the situation.
Some analysts told ICIS that the dispute with ClientEarth could become an excuse for PGE to scrap the expansion. "The cost-effectiveness of this project is doubtful", a Deutsche Bank expert, Tomasz Krukowski, told ICIS. "Paradoxically, the court case ... brought by ClientEarth can become beneficial for PGE if it is unsure whether to go ahead," he said.
According to the project's environmental impact assessment report, the annual CO2 emissions from the two new units at the Opole plant would reach more than 9 million tonnes. Karolina Zagrodna
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