Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (EREC)
Project manager & lead author Sven Teske, Greenpeace International
EREC: Rainer Hinrichs Rahlwes
Greenpeace Poland: Anna Ogniewska
Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC): Steve Sawyer
researcher in Poland: Institute for Renewable Energy, Warsaw, Poland
phone +48 22 825 46 52
Foreword: A few years ago, the situation of the Polish energy system was very simple: it was generally accepted that coal would, for a long time, remain our primary fuel, providing energy security and affordable electricity and heat. Renewable
energy sources, then and in the future, would be of marginal importance, while natural gas would be an addition to our
energy mix. How much has changed in a short time. It has turned out that the coal from our active mines is sufficient only for 30-
40 years. By 2035, we will have exhausted the resources of brown coal from all three basins in Konin, Turow and Belchatow.
Meanwhile, production costs are rising, so that Polish coal is already becoming uncompetitive compared to imported fuel.
Added to this is the problem of the rising costs of energy that is being produced in coal-fired power plants: huge amounts of money are needed to build new units and to purchase the rights to emit carbon dioxide. By 2020 a carbon tax regulation should be in place in order to internalize the external costs of fossil fuel power plants. Nuclear power, which has been promoted by the Polish government for several years, cannot save the day: the first such power plant with a capacity of 3000 MW, which was built in 2025 at the horrendously high cost of €50-60 billion, would contribute less than 10% to annual production.
So, the era of highly centralized energy – a relic from the twentieth century – is coming to an end in Poland. The system in this paper is presented as a reference. It is a road that provides energy security – without being inefficient and harmful to the environment. The authors rightly suggest to build up a decentralized renewable energy system rather than a centralized one.
It turns out that the potential of renewable energy in our country exceeds our energy needs many times over, both at present and in the future. A new, environmentally-friendly system would trigger funding for local civic initiatives and ensure energy security, both locally and at the national level, while creating tens of thousands of jobs, especially in local markets.
Furthermore, such a system would have a much higher energy efficiency and would not require major investments in power lines. In the long run, it has many advantages, as described by the authors. As a viable alternative it will gain prominence in Poland. Over the next decade, both models will power coexist together. While I am confident that this trend cannot be stopped, it can be slowed down: by abolishing the legal and economic barriers that exist today in favor of a fossil fuel-based energy system.
The fate of the Polish energy future will be decided today. It depends on the political will of the country’s leaders which way we will go – whether we are being pushed into a dead-end, expensive future based largely on imported fossil fuels, or whether renewable energy sources will receive the development opportunities they deserve. I hope that this study, by portraying a feasible, realistic scenario for the Polish Energy [R]evolution, will be helpful in starting an in-depth discussion, leading to the development of the energy strategy of the 21st century.
PROFESSOR . ASSOC. ENG. MINISTER OF THE
ENVIRONMENT IN 1989-1991 AND 2007-2009.1