Q & A
What is needed for smog to be formed are appropriate weather conditions (low temperature, small wind, low humidity) and land topography, as well as the presence of polluting substance emissions. In large cities with developed district heating, the main emitters of pollutants are cars and busses, while in suburban and rural areas emissions are also caused by farming and combustion of inappropriate substances (waste, wood that is not dry enough).
There are various systems of using renewable energy sources, with most of them being dependent on weather conditions, such as wind and sun. At present there are no energy storage facilities with adequate capacity, therefore, together with installations that use renewables, it is necessary to build auxiliary (emergency) sources to produce energy when there is no wind or when the cloud cover is high.
Energy poverty is a problem that is also observed in developed EU countries and it refers to a situation where part of the society cannot afford to properly heat their building or home or cannot afford to pay their energy bills. All over the European Union 24.5% of inhabitants are exposed to the risk of energy poverty and 9% of the society live in energy poverty.
Taking into account data concerning the production of heat in heating plants in 2016, we can clearly see that coal still remains the cheapest source of energy. The cost of generating 1 GJ of energy from coal is 7,4 EUR, while from RES (biomass) it is 9,0 EUR, from natural gas - 12,3 EUR and from fuel oil - as much as 17,9 EUR.
In 2017 coal imports to Europe amounted to 173 million tons, with the largest importers being: Germany (47.9 million tons), Spain (19.2 million tons), the Netherlands (16.2 million tons), France (15.7 million tons) and Italy (15.3 million tons).
Energy generated through RES-based installations is almost free at operating stage, but it requires high financial outlays at the investment stage. The prices of electric power for households are higher in countries with a large share of photovoltaic and wind installations than in countries that use coal.
If this is to be transformation (and not liquidation), then we need to preserve the value chain that the mining sector generates for the social and economic development of regions and take into account the differences between the level of development of particular countries and regions. This requires creating equivalent jobs in other mature and specialised sectors and providing appropriate financing for the process.
An expert report prepared by the University of Economics in Katowice showed that in the case of Polska Grupa Górnicza [Polish Mining Group] the cost of transformation into another, most likely industry (automotive, construction, other technological sectors) would be about EUR 44 billion, and only provided that a very important condition is met - namely that there will be investors ready to recreate those jobs in other mature sectors.
Half of the energy produced from renewables in Western European countries is subsidised. In 2015 the total subsidies for RES amounted to EUR 60 billion, while subsidies for coal production in the same period amounted to EUR 4.2 billion. Taking into account the investment costs per MW of installed capacity, investments in renewables are more expensive than investments in this unit based on coal. Subsidised RES are highly unstable in operation and they have priority as regards energy transfer to the grid. This requires maintaining high power reserves based on conventional fuels and it has a negative impact upon their economics.