It’s not just winter chill, Russia-Ukraine conflict, and a rich American gas supplier hitting the average European home.
▲On August 26, 2022 local time, dozens of cars and trucks lined up in front of a coal mine in Podanka, eastern Poland, waiting to buy coal. Figure/IC photo
With the arrival of winter, Europeans began to really face the problem of how to survive the winter.
The good news is that this year is a warm winter. In previous years, the average temperature in Europe would drop to minus 4 degrees Celsius or lower in November, but this year until the end of November, the average temperature in Europe during the day can still maintain 6-8 degrees Celsius; the bad news is that it is colder after all. Winter is coming, and most countries in Europe do not have central heating, and ordinary people have to find their own way.
According to media reports, in Wałbrzych, a traditional coal mine in Poland, some citizens began to illegally dig coal in the local woods, parks and even the gardens of their living quarters.
The place where Nazi treasures are said to be buried
Wałbrzych is located in the south of Poland, adjacent to the Czech Republic. Historically, this place has been a place where “treasure hunters” from all walks of life explored and hunted for treasures. Legend has it that before Germany was defeated in World War II, Hitler secretly ordered the transfer of treasures looted by Germany in batches. It is said that an armored train full of treasures disappeared after driving to the Wałbrzych Mountains. It is rumored that there is a large amount of gold and rare treasures in the “Amber Palace”.
The “Amber Palace” was looted by Nazi Germany from Russia. It is mainly composed of amber. The decorations include diamonds, gemstones, gold, silver foil, etc. The total weight exceeds six tons, and the value can be imagined. This missing armored train, later known as the “Nazi Gold Train”, is famous.
After World War II, many adventurers rushed to Wałbrzych for treasure hunting. And the mines in this area were indeed found to contain 2.2 billion Deutsche Mark banknotes, which further set off a frenzy of treasure hunting here. Even the Polish government has been involved in the treasure hunt, though the treasure looted by the Nazis has never been found. But the tradition of treasure hunting continues to this day.
After understanding this period of history, it is conceivable that the citizens of Wałbrzych went out everywhere, perhaps not only to dig coal, but also to dig treasures.
Coal shouldn’t have been a scarce commodity for Poles to survive the winter
70% of Poland’s electricity supply depends on coal power, and it relies heavily on imported coal. In the past, 75% of Poland’s coal, 55% of natural gas and 65% of its oil imports came from Russia.
After the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out, Poland announced in March this year that it would stop importing Russian oil and natural gas at the end of the year, and began banning Russian coal imports in April, earlier than the European Union implemented the ban. After cutting off most of the energy supply from Russia, the price of coal in Poland has soared to more than four times that of the same period last year, and the price of electricity for the whole year is expected to rise by 24%.
Speaking of which, Poland is the largest coal producer in Europe, so it is unlikely that it will not be able to stabilize coal prices. However, in recent years, Poland has actively promoted the trading of carbon dioxide emission rights and restricted coal power generation. Therefore, before the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Poland was already the country with the largest increase in electricity prices in the EU. On the basis of the original base, electricity prices will rise by another 24% this year, and the pain brought to ordinary people can be imagined.
Europeans spend fancy winter and add new tricks
The Wałbrzych region has the second largest coal field in Poland. The reserves are not very rich, but the quality is very good. Now it has naturally become a hot commodity in the market. According to media reports, a local coal digging team of 4 can dig out 1 ton of coal in an hour, and each person can earn 1,000 Polish zlotys (about 220 U.S. dollars) in half a day, which is equivalent to six times the local people’s weekly income. into about.
The Wałbrzych people are digging coal in public areas and private gardens, adding a new twist to Europeans’ winter fancy this year. However, outside the Wałbrzych area, some ordinary Polish people who do not have the conditions to dig coal can only take the method of burning garbage to keep warm.
▲This is a thermal power station taken in Frankfurt, Germany on October 8, 2021.Photo/Xinhua News Agency
In addition, some European households have returned to traditional heating methods, causing the price of firewood and wood chips to skyrocket. The “eight-piece winter suit” made in China, including long johns, thermal underwear, hot water bottles, hand warmers, and electric blankets, is also selling well in Europe. Of course, there are class differences in wintering, and some unusual Europeans plan to go abroad for the winter.
For ordinary Poles, the recent “explosion” of natural gas stocks in Europe and the arrival of warm winter have led to a drop in natural gas prices in Europe, which has nothing to do with them. More than 70% of coal-fired households in Europe are in Poland. If coal prices do not drop, they will have to find ways to survive the winter. Of course, life is not so easy for Europeans outside Poland. While benchmark European gas prices are now down 60% from their August peak, they are still three times the five-year average.
What’s more, no one knows what the next year will hold. It’s not just winter chill, Russia-Ukraine conflict, and a rich American gas supplier hitting the average European home.
These three chills also hit European companies. But until now, many European politicians have turned a blind eye and offered no systemic solutions. What they are counting on is that this year’s warm winter can continue to be warm.
Written by Xu Lifan (columnist)
Editor / Chi Daohua
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