Promotions on telephones, televisions or washing machines... And on coal! The American tradition of Black Friday sales has extended to consumer goods stores in recent years. But this year, Poland's largest mining company, the PGG group, joined the movement by offering a reduction of 200 zlotys (46 euros) or a discount of 15% to 18% for each ton of coal purchased from its store in line.
“The PGG SA online store has decided to participate in the Black Weeks campaign for the first time in its history,” the company announced on social networks on Monday. Poland is the country in Europe most dependent on coal, with the fossil fuel producing around 70% of its electricity.
As the Eastern European country experienced the first snowfall over the weekend and coal prices usually spike at this time of year, the company announced its second price cut in a year. week, after having already decreed a reduction of 200 zlotys per tonne last Monday.
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These repeated sales demonstrate the complicated situation in which Polish coal companies find themselves. They accumulated significant stocks last year - after the shortage caused by the war in Ukraine - before facing sluggish demand this year. “Prices are around 30% lower compared to 2022,” explains Piotr Siergiej, spokesperson for the Smog Alert association which fights against air pollution. “This is a very bad signal sent to citizens... The strict standards which prevail on the quality of coal have been lifted until the end of the year. It would not be surprising if this coal was of poor quality,” he suspects. From 2024, new standards will come into force, which encourages companies to sell their stocks before because “they will have more difficulty doing so next year.”
According to data from the Industrial Development Agency, at the end of the first half of 2023, the coal stock in Poland was twice as large compared to last year (3.3 million tons compared to 1.5 million). Households contributed to this storage, expecting a difficult winter in the context of an energy crisis, but the cold season was milder than expected.
Around 20% of Poles still heated with coal in 2021, compared to 36% in 2018, according to the National Statistics Office GUS. This significant drop is explained in particular by massive state subsidies aimed at replacing coal stoves, the main cause of poor air quality, with less polluting alternatives. In Krakow, for years the Smog alarm association fought to install a panel displaying air quality in real time. Because Polish air remains one of the most polluted in Europe.
In some regions, concentrations of toxic molecules are ten times higher than the safety levels defined in European legislation, according to the organization. So much so that pollution is the cause of more than 45,000 premature deaths each year. Domestic boilers are the main reason for high concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5, particles that cause impaired respiratory health.
In 2020, the country, the leading coal producer in Europe, announced the closure of its mines by 2049, banking on renewable energies and nuclear power to replace its black gold. But this Black Friday week, at PGG, “everything has to go.”