European Energy Salon

On March 20th in Berlin, experts from Turkey, Greece, Germany and Poland discussed societal challenges related to the energy transition. The situation in Poland was presented by Konstancja Ziółkowska from our Institute.

European Energy salon organised periodically by Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin is dedicated to the future of energy and climate policy in Europe. This time the panellists were asked what local and national solution methods can provide answers to societal challenges of structural change, and what we can learn from each other in this regard.

Turkey – national nuclear policy vs. anti-nuclear social movement

Pınar Demircan, an independent journalist and activist from Turkey, presented the Turkish debate regarding the construction of nuclear power plants in this country. The government in Turkey decided to build new reactors and presented nuclear power as a "local and national" source of energy, despite the fact that Turkey does not have uranium deposits. At the same time, the voices of opponents of nuclear power plants are being marginalised in the public debate. Activists keep warning of numerous threats related to the development of this type of power industry and indicate that the investment in renewable energy would be a more forward-looking direction for Turkey. The journalist stressed that the anti-nuclear movement in Turkey is strong and has a long tradition dating back to the 1970s, but in the current political situation it is pushed out from the public debate by the government.

Germany - transformation of the lignite sector more and more acceptable

Dagmar Schmidt, the co-founder of the "Lausitzer Perspektiven" association referred to the situation in the German Lusatia - one of the main regions of Germany, where lignite is currently being mined. According to Schmidt, the discussion should now focus on changing the economic model in Lusatia rather than on energy-mix. Lignite mining and lignite power plants still constitute an important component of this model. Until recently it has been extremely difficult to discuss the exit from lignite in the region as the voices were extremely antagonistic. The last five years have brought a change - the future without lignite starts to be an acceptable scenario for a growing number of the residents of Lusatia. The activist emphasized that we should avoid errors that were committed in the eastern German Lands after the reunification of Germany - that is, a fast, destructive transformation that causes permanent social and economic damage.

Greece – new legislation supports the development of RES

Miriam Rodríguez-Ruiz, founder of one of the first energy cooperatives in Greece, presented the dynamics of renewable energy development in this country. At the end of the 90s Greece was a perfect place to invest in RES installations, and renewable energy was dynamically developing. However, since the crisis in 2009, the conditions for further development have deteriorated and a stagnation has occurred. However, Rodriguez-Ruiz pointed out, that currently new legal solutions are being implemented in Greece that have the potential to contribute to a revival in the area of ​​renewable energy. The new law allows i.a. to create energy communities whose aim is to generate local energy. Different actors: natural persons, municipalities as well as small and medium enterprises can be associated in the communities.

Poland - energy poverty in the context of combating air pollution

Konstancja Ziółkowska from our Institute presented the state of public debate in Poland regarding energy poverty. Over the last year, this phenomenon has been noticed both by public opinion and the administration. This is primarily the merit of activists fighting to improve the quality of air in Polish cities, who managed to convince Poles that the problem of smog is a serious threat to public health and requires urgent intervention.  Ziółkowska stressed the relationship between air pollution and the situation of energy poor people, who often live in old, uninsulated houses heated with coal boilers, which account for a large part of the toxic emissions.  They are unable to bear the investment costs of improving the energy efficiency of the occupied building. The implementation of the governmental "Clean Air" program has the potential to contribute to the reduction of the scale of energy poverty by supporting thermal retrofitting of single-family houses belonging to households identified as energy poor. However, the current, pilot phase of the program does not allow to determine how effective the government's actions will be.


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