Krakow to Lead in Clean Coal

The Polish consortium has won a contract for a part of the InnoEnergy Knowledge and Innovation Community, as a co-location centre for sustainable energy. It will receive 120 million euro a year for several years and will be coordinated by Krakow’s University of Science and Technology (AGH).

The Polish consortium will be developing clean coal energy, as Poland’s coal resources are one of the largest in Europe. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) announced its long-awaited verdict in Budapest on 16 December.

“For the average Pole this will mean cheaper energy and less pollution when compared with just using fossil fuels. It will also be beneficial for the state’s economy thanks to smaller fees for carbon dioxide emissions,” said Dariusz Lubera, a chairman of Tauron SA, a Polish energy supplier.

Thanks to EIT funds, Poland will be able to transfer technology on a major scale. Cooperating with European participants, such as Germany, France, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands, will allow Polish universities and companies to exchange know-how and technologies with its partners.

“For Polish science this is a leap not by one step, but by two at once,” stresses Antoni Tajduś, the rector of AGH, the coordinating university for Poland. “In the case of the development of clean coal energy, we mean not just already existing technologies, which need a final economic ‘push’, but some completely new ones that still need development, such as coal-nuclear fusion. Despite appearances, coal extraction is still growing and not decreasing, so newly developed solutions could then be sold all over the world,” says Tajduś.

The task of the InnoEnergy Knowledge and Innovation Community is to develop cheaper and more ecological ways of obtaining energy from already existing sources, as well as developing new renewable energy sources. The areas under exploration are nuclear and coal energy, as well as biomass, wind and water energy. Polish scientists will also be able to participate in all research carried out by partner research units. For example, the Jagiellonian University intends to join several biomass utilisation projects.

The CCPolandPlus consortium science members are: The University of Science and Technology in Krakow (AGH), the Jagiellonian University, the Silesian University of Technology, the University of Silesia, Wrocław University of Technology, the Central Mining Institute in Katowice and the Institute for the Chemical Processing of Coal. Four partner companies related to energy management will support research with at least three hundred thousand euro per year.

“This is a breakthrough for Polish science and a great change in thinking. Until now there has been hardly any support from the business world for science in Poland, as there is in the U.S.,” stresses Karol Musioł, the rector of the Jagiellonian University. “In a co-location centre, business can influence the direction of research, and scientists can be sure that there will be money and a market for their innovations,” adds Musioł.

Apart from research and technology transfer, the Krakow-Silesian co-location centre will educate students so they will be able to carry on research on clean coal in the future and know how to commercialise it.

The three European Knowledge and Innovation Communities for energy, environment and IT are projects that aim to develop Europe’s entrepreneurship and competitiveness and turn it into a knowledge-based community.

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