The German model company Miele eliminates jobs in Germany and moves part of its production to Poland. So, of all places, in the country where more than 60 percent of the energy produced last year came from coal, the dirtiest energy source from a climate perspective. The Bełchatów Power Station in Poland is the largest brown coal-fired power station in the world.
Coal will remain a major energy source for decades to come, with nuclear power coming a close second. Renewable energy is expanding, but it is still a long way from replacing fossil energy providers. Does the German company not care about the energy source or, even more heretically asked, is the comparatively cheap and constant coal-based electricity perhaps even a location advantage?
The fact is that Miele is not alone in its decision in favor of Poland and against Germany. Especially medium-sized companies are currently moving to the eastern neighboring country. French automobile supplier Valeo plans to stop producing electric motors in Bad Neustadt an der Saale, Franconia, in mid-2024. Production will move to Poland. Automotive supplier IFA is also considering moving production from Haldensleben to Poland. IFA produces drive shafts for vehicles in Haldensleben with around 900 employees. Hearing aid manufacturer Bernafon will move production of its current hearing aids from Berlin to Stettin. The company TE Connectivity, which produces, among other things, automotive connectors in the Straubing-Bogen district, will eliminate 170 jobs in this country and establish its production in Poland.
VW, Mercedes and Ikea also go to Poland
Large corporations are no different: VW has announced that it will no longer manufacture the combustion-engined Golf in Wolfsburg, but in Poland. Mercedes is building an electric van factory in Jawor, Poland. And the Swedes at Ikea, so interested in a clean image, traditionally make most of their wooden furniture in Poland. Apparently, the origin of the energy plays a minor role for all these companies.
According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, Poland now leads the ranking of the most attractive supplier and relocation countries for European companies and has overtaken Germany. 23 percent of companies wishing to relocate chose Poland, ahead of Germany (19 percent) and Turkey (12 percent). Almost 6,000 German subsidiaries are currently based there, which together employ around 430,000 people. German companies have invested more than $40 billion in Poland in recent years.
Individual sectors stand out, such as the automobile industry. Poland is the largest exporter of electric buses in the EU. There are more than 60 lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants. Poland is also the largest manufacturer of household appliances in the EU: brands such as Philips, Sharp, LG Electronics and TCL produce more than 20 million televisions in Poland each year. Now Miele joins the household appliance manufacturers that see their future in Poland.
The shortage of skilled workers in Germany is a major factor
Lars Gutheil, member of the board of directors of the German-Polish Chamber of Commerce, analyzes the trend and recognizes, in addition to energy supply, another point that makes Poland attractive: “The growing shortage of qualified workers in Germany is one of the most important factors for the development of locations in the largest neighboring country to the east,” he says in an interview. Furthermore, salaries in Poland are still lower than in Germany. Bureaucracy is also limited. “Many regional organizations act very boldly and without bureaucracy when it comes to new investments.” However, when it comes to energy production, Gutheil warns: “International investors, including Germans, are subject to clear CO2 targets. If Poland wants to attract and retain these companies in the future, clear signals must be sent to compete with other markets.”
At the moment, however, it appears that this warning is fading with the wind. The trend is towards the transfer to the neighboring country to the east. In any case, coal-fired energy or, later, energy from nuclear reactors does not prevent German investors from choosing Poland over other countries.
The article “Miele is not alone in its decision in Poland: everything revolves around coal” from The European.