By Anders Lorenzen
Poland, hardly known for its green credentials, is reaching out to help its neighbouring to Balkan countries to invest in renewable energy.
In Poland’s efforts to back EU membership for the Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jadwiga Emilewicz, its minister for entrepreneurship and technology has suggested that Polish energy groups could invest in wind and solar in those countries, reflecting that“ We are aware that this region offers significant prospects for developing renewable sources of energy.”.
Poland itself has been slow to adopt renewable energy and has been largely dependant on coal for many decades, but this is starting to shift with more energy companies looking towards renewables. State-run utility company Tauron said in May that it plans to replace most of its coal-burning power plants with renewable sources during the next decade to adjust to EU climate policies. Other Polish state-run energy firms include PGE, Enea and Energa.
Emilewicz hinted that it had been costly for the country to wait this long to invest in renewables, adding: “Based on our own experience and on our painful example we can say today that transformation is expensive, but not doing it is also costly.” Serbia is Poland’s biggest trade partner and the latter will in July host a Western Balkans investment summit in this month.
While renewables are starting to figure in Poland’s energy landscape, the country is still heavily committed to coal and the country have resisted Germany’s push to end coal use the dirty energy source by 2050.
Neither is there consensus over the EU’s future enlargement in the region. Brussels is concerned about both the region’s close alignment to Russia as well as challenges like corruption. In 2016, pro-Putin backers planned a coup in Montenegro by, a reminder to EU member states just how far many Balkan states still have to go to meet their requirements.