Poland taps coal region for first electric car plant

Coal mining has become less profitable thanks to EU schemes like the ETS, but electric vehicles sales are increasing [andreas160578 / Pixabay]

Poland’s first state-backed electric car plant is expected to begin production by 2024 in a region of the EU country that now relies heavily on coal mining for jobs, the ElectroMobility Poland (EMP) carmaker said on Tuesday (15 December).

Lagging behind its smaller EU neighbours, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in making electric vehicles, Poland presented its own SUV and hatchback prototypes earlier this year under the Izera brand name.

Meeting with local officials there, EMP’s president, Piotr Zaremba, said the plant would be built in Jaworzno, a mining town in the southern Silesian coal basin.

With production planned to start in three years, the plant is expected to employ some 3,000 people with an additional 12,000 jobs created by suppliers and subcontractors.

The value of the investment in the new plant was not immediately clear.

A key figure in Poland’s plan to transition away from coal, Climate and Environment Minister Michal Kurtyka, told local media the investment was “an important element” in creating permanent jobs in the region as it shifts away from coal.

Now relying on coal for around 80% of its electricity and some 80,000 mining sector jobs, Poland plans to phase out its coal mines by 2049.

The move puts Poland within reach of meeting the European Union’s climate target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, something Warsaw had previously rejected, arguing it needed more time to make the transition.

Poland’s populist Law and Justice government has vowed to create new jobs in coal regions as mines are phased out.

Employment in the coal sector is a politically sensitive issue in Poland, a country of 38 million people, where miners and their families are still a powerful voting bloc.

Launched in 2016, EMP was formed by four Polish state-owned energy companies including PGE, Energa, Enea and Tauron Polska as part of moves to transition away from fossil fuels.

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