Poland’s Energy Conundrum

National Economy

The population of the Commonwealth of Poland is approximately 37.79 million people[1]. In 2019, 100% of the people in this central European country had access to electricity[2].

In 2019, Poland’s economy was ranked 21st in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[3]. The country’s economy[4] is dependent on the export of cars, furniture, computers, coke, razor blades, wood products, fruits, and nuts.

Environment Policies

In 2009, Poland as a member of the European Union (EU) committed to the Renewable Energy Directive,” which requires each country to use renewable energy for 20% of its total energy needs by 2020 and 27% by 2030.

In 2016, Poland as a member of the EU signed the “Paris Climate Agreement”[5]. The EU committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In 2020, Poland’s utilities used coal (69.9 %), renewable energy (16.9 %), natural gas (10.4 %) and oil (2.8 %) to generate electricity in the country[6]. Wind, biomass, and solar are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Poland.

Recent renewable energy projects in Poland include:

  • 5 Wind Projects – German renewable energy company WPG is continuing work on four wind projects in western Poland. All the projects are scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 70 MW Solar Project – In November 2021, Polish energy company ZE PAK commissioned  a solar project at a site approximately 100 miles west of the nation’s capital, Warsaw.
  • 30 MW Waste To Energy Project – South Korean engineering company, POSCO is continuing work on a waste-to-energy project in Warsaw. The project will process approximately 725 tons of waste per day. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2024.
  • 12 MW Waste To Energy Project – Polish company, Dobra Energia is continuing work on a waste-to-energy project at a site approximately 125 miles north of Warsaw. The project will process approximately 300 tons of waste per day.

Conclusions

Poland has the second largest coal reserves in the EU. In 2020, the coal industry employed approximately 80,000 people in Poland.

In 2020, 83.1% of Poland’s electricity was generated by fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil). However, coal-fired power plants are the primary source of the greenhouse gas gases in the country.

Poland has significant renewable energy resources, including wind, biomass, and solar. In 2019 the government set a goal to increase total solar capacity from 2,250 MW to 7,800 MW by 2030 and install 28,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2050.

Poland has been slow to develop its renewable energy resources, unlike Germany and Denmark. As a member of the EU, Poland must comply with the mandate to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Poland is faced with an energy conundrum. Is Poland committed to addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions? If so, will the nation shut down the nation’s coal mines and take the risk of crippling Poland’s economy?

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Poland Population (2021) – November 15, 2021, World Population Re

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[2] Poland – The World Bank Group

[3] Gross Domestic Product 2019 – World Bank DataBank

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Poland

[5] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Our World In Data, Poland: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

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