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Poland to diversify mix with nuclear energy, offshore wind under draft policy

Author: Kuba Bożanowski.

November 26 (Renewables Now) - Poland’s energy ministry released on Friday a draft energy policy to 2040, under which the share of coal power is expected to decrease to 60% in 2030 from over 78% in 2017 with the help of new sources like offshore wind and nuclear energy.

The policy was submitted for consultation by January 15, 2019. On Friday it attracted criticism by Greenpeace Polska and WindEurope, mainly due to the fact that onshore wind is totally neglected, and also because it ignores the threats and challenges posed by climate change.

The Polish government expects to build 6 GW to 9 GW of nuclear power capacity by 2043 and to have the country’s first offshore wind farm up and running after 2025. A 21% share of renewable energy sources in final gross energy consumption is targeted for 2030. This includes a modest increase of 1-1.3 percentage points in the share of green energy in heating and cooling, growth in renewables’ power share to 27% mainly due to offshore wind, and a 14% renewables share in transport in 2030. Options to balance renewables will be studied and there is also a plan to build energy storage capacity.

Poland will also work to expand its transmission and distribution network and cross-border connections, and develop smart grids.

The deployment of renewable energies is expected to accelerate after 2025, when individual technologies are seen to achieve technological and economic maturity, according to the draft document by the ministry. Offshore wind is especially attractive because it is not really intermittent, but the development of such projects will depend on the completion of work on strengthening the transmission network in the northern part of the country. Solar energy generation will also be growing as Poland is facing high demand for power in the summer months, due to the need for air conditioning, which aligns with the solar power generation curve.

“It is estimated that photovoltaic sources will reach economic and technical maturity after 2022,” says the policy.

Biomass and biogas will mainly be important for the heating sector, but also a bit for power generation, especially when it comes to cogeneration.

There are no plans for an expansion of onshore wind capacities. The document says the imbalance between the periods of wind power generation and electricity demand in Poland is one of the reasons. Also, wind farms on land are not well accepted by local communities.

“This is really disappointing on onshore wind. And it makes no sense economically. You expand your power capacity but you don’t use the cheapest form of new power generation?” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. The trade body calculates that Poland’s onshore wind capacity would plunge from 7 GW in 2025 to just 800 MW in 2040.

Paweł Szypulski, coordinator of the Climate and Energy Department at Greenpeace in Poland, pointed out that the cost of power from wind farms in Poland is less than half of the cost of power from coal-fired plants. He also said the energy policy in its current form shows complete lack of understanding of changes currently occurring in the global energy sector.

"Our future energy industry is focused on carbon-free energy generation and this should be the main priority for Government and the creation of new energy policies. Climate target and carbon policies are all driving government and individual nations to rethink and reshape their energy mix," commented Charlie Giblin, CEO of niche clean energy recruitment business Mint Selection. "Whilst the declining coal industry may inevitably result in job losses, government strategies should be proactive and enable skilled professionals with fossil fuel backgrounds the opportunity to make a transition into alternative energy and emerging engineering markets."

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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