Poland develops more ambitious coal phaseout plan

08 September 2020

Poland plans to phase out coal more quickly than its previously stated ambition, according to a new draft energy policy that looks ahead to 2040, Polish business daily Puls Biznesu reported today. The document, which was produced by the Ministry of Climate, states that the share of coal in the country's energy mix should fall to 35.6-56% in 10 years, which contrasts with the 56-60% provided for in a government report last November.

Polish Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka (Image: Polish government)

A meeting of government officials and Silesian miners is planned for 10 September on the subject of Poland's energy policy.

According to the draft plan, the share of coal in Polish energy consumption could fall to 11-28% by 2040, depending on whether the price of CO2 emissions permits will be cheaper or more expensive. A previous draft plan, published in November 2019 and just before the dismissal of Krzysztof Tchorzewski as energy minister, the share of coal was to be 28%.

Puls Biznesu said that Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka has given his assurance that the transformation of the Polish energy sector would be fair and that European funds of PLN60 billion (EUR13.49 billion) would be mobilised to finance this target.

The new plan aims for a slightly greater share of renewable energy of at least 23% percent, similar to the November plan’s target of 21-23%. The new draft still foresees the construction of nuclear power plants and offshore wind farms.

According to the newspaper, Kurtyka has indicated that the forecasts for coal do not take into account the launch of extraction from the Złoczew lignite deposit, located in the area of the Bełchatów power plant that is operated by PGE. "We shall leave the decision regarding Złoczew to the investor," Kurtyka reportedly said.

The new plan also states that the government aims to commission the country’s first nuclear power unit in 2033 and that more reactors are to be commissioned every 2-3 years, up to six units in total. Offshore wind energy capacity is to increase to 5.9 GWe by 2030 and to 8-11 GWe by 2040.

In June, Kurtyka wrote to Frans Timmermans and Kadri Simons - respectively, the first vice president of the European Commission and the European commissioner for energy - stating that it is "important to stress how local conditions may vary" among EU Member States.

"Poland's baseload generations currently relies heavily on fossil fuel combustion," he wrote. "Our geography excludes the development of non-intermittent renewable capacity like hydro, while the window of opportunity to implement nuclear power was missed in the late eighties as a result of an arbitrary decision. This, combined with a large population and industry with rising energy demand, puts us at a different starting point than the rest of our EU partners. This is why Poland, following good example and experience from other Member States, intends to develop nuclear power to replace the baseload capacity provided by coal with a zero-emission, stable generation at a cost affordable for Polish citizens and economy."

Kurtyka is a speaker at tomorrow's high-level panel 'Building a stronger and cleaner tomorrow with nuclear energy' on the first day of World Nuclear Association's Strageic eForum 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News