Poland’s renewable potential

A wind farm in Poland.

 By Anders Lorenzen

At the recent UN climate summit in Warsaw, Poland the Polish government were busy advocating the continued usage of coal and that it has a role to play even in meeting climate change targets. The potential of renewable energy has been downplayed by the government, despite a call from the Polish people for more renewable energy, as several are suffering from air pollution symptoms, a consequence of heavy burning of coal for both electricity and heat.

But in a new report by Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace, the outlook given was that if the right policies were put in place, Poland could be at the forefront of a renewable energy revolution.

Due to EU laws Poland must have a 15% renewable energy capacity by 2020 of which they intend to do, but instead of promoting the 100% clean energy message, the Polish government aims to achieve this by burning coal with biomass. The current energy policy in place in Poland is unbalanced and does not take into consideration the huge potential for growth in the wind power sector both offshore and onshore, as well as solar if the right policies were put in place, the report argues.

In 2010 renewable energy accounted for 7.8% of Poland’s energy demand, of which was mainly biomass used for heating, today around 92% of the country’s primary energy sources still comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

Poland is at a cross-road as many of the ageing and polluting power plants are coming to the end of their lives, but despite a poll published by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), showing overwhelmingly support for renewable energy, 89% of Polish citizens are in favour of increasing its renewable energy capacity, the Polish government is moving forward with building more coal powered power plants and open cast-lignite mines which will lock the country into a carbon dependant future.

But by 2030 Poland can half its coal demand, quadruple its renewable energy use and create 100,000 jobs in the energy sector, equaling employment in the country’s coal industry, according to the report, proving that the Polish economy can cut its reliance on coal and abandon costly plans for new lignite open cast mines.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

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