Mittwoch, 23. September 2015

Renewables in Poland - The Polish Energy Policy 2050

● By Legal Counsel Dr. Christian Schnell, Warsaw ● 

The Polish Ministry of the Economy (MoE) has published a strategic paper Polish Energy Policy until 2050. The strategy set out in this paper should enter into force after the Paris Climate Summit, so it will be subject to decision after the parliamentary elections on 25th October this year. Public consultation is on-going until 18 September.

Dr. Christian Schnell 
While the paper as it stands is based on data on Poland’s long-term fuel and energy needs provided in 2013 by the Polish National Energy Conservation Agency (KAPE), the MoE has recently ordered an update by another organisation – the Warsaw Institute for Economic Studies (WISE) to take into account Poland’s nuclear power plant commissioning being officially delayed until 2029 and a new RES target of 20 per cent of energy production by 2030 (currently 15 per cent until 2020).

The paper makes certain political assumptions, which will no doubt be re-examined by the new Polish government after elections. A key assumption is the continuation of the push towards nuclear power – the MoE expects new technologies to decentralise nuclear power production and increase the competitiveness of this technology after 2030. This rather speculative technological forecast is given as grounds for not decentralising energy production and for slowing down the development of smart grids, smart-meters and self-generation. In reality this appears to protecting the Polish state-owned utilities and mining sector by stealth.

Furthermore, new lignite and coal power plants are planned (as well as exploration for new coal and lignite seams in central Poland and lower Silesia, as current lignite seams will be exploited after 2030) – in case EU continues to tighten CO2-policy measures for gasification of coal, as shale gas exploration has not fulfilled its promise. However, the MoE assumes that the imperatives of global competiveness and energy security will restrain the EU’s climate policy, leaving coal competitive in the longer term – a questionable assumption.

A further assumption is that fuel-based energy production will dominate the sector until at least 2050. The Ministry expects the internal market for electricity to develop slowly – this expectation is understandable, as importing power is one of the largest economic risks for coal-based energy production, but questionable. Renewables should be promoted until 2035, especially technologies with a high capacity factor (biomass), the greatest technological potential (PV), and lowest production cost (onshore wind). Microinstallations, storage systems and smart grids will provide the technical environment necessary for successful renewable energy production – it is assumed that by 2050 at the latest, the transmission and distribution grids will be ‘intelligent’. This timeline is way behind the timeline of EU Commission. Nevertheless the MoE expects renewable energy sources – especially in rural areas for self-consumption – to develop faster than previously assumed by governmental strategy papers. It sees Poland as having its share of market implementation of innovative renewable energy technologies, and sees significant benefits for the economy, even though it is silent on which technologies it expects to succeed.

While Polish Energy Policy until 2050 is an interesting clue as to how the MoE views the changes taking place on the European and global political landscape, its political impact is questionable – especially concerning long-term protection for coal and lignite power production.

So, it seems that for the time being the government will continue its anti-climate policy in Brussels, albeit with ever-decreasing political support in Europe. The strategic paper 2050 should therefore be understood as its maximum position on the eve of Poland’s parliamentary election campaign, and – depending on the outcome of Paris Summit – substantial changes to Poland’s mid- and long-term energy sector strategy will be most likely required.
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