IEA urges Poland to opt for cleaner coal and renewables

POLAND: Poland has to do more to clean up its energy sector in the face of challenging EU targets on greenhouse gas emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

Poland is 'a less attractive place to invest in wind power', the IEA said
Poland is 'a less attractive place to invest in wind power', the IEA said

"Although important improvements have been made to modernise the Polish energy infrastructure, significant investments are still needed to ensure a sustainable supply of energy, reduce the share of carbon-intensive plants and increase the exploitation of renewable energy sources," the IEA noted.

The organisation highlighted Poland's "very ambitious" target of one million electric vehicles by 2025 and "significant progress" in the deployment of renewable energy sources.

But there are major headaches looming for a country that is so reliant on coal. The overhaul of the country's regulatory framework for renewables within the Renewable Energy Act 2015 and separate legislation for the development of onshore wind have reduced costs at the expense of further growth, the IEA said.

Poland is "a less attractive place to invest in wind power", the IEA said, adding that "despite the progress of the past decade, the future of renewable energy in Poland looks uncertain". 

In May 2016, the government passed legislation imposing minimum distance requirements for new wind farms and raising the property tax burden for all wind energy investors.

The right-wing government is a proponent of coal-fired generation, which is expected to remain the cornerstone of a new long-term energy plan to 2050, due to be published this year.

Almost two thirds (62%) of the country's coal capacity is over 30 years old. A replacement strategy could reduce carbon emissions by 20% or more, slash air pollutant emissions by 90% and strengthen energy security, the IEA said.

However, the extension programme also "represents an economic challenge for the sector", the organisation noted.

"The new energy strategy must determine if coal is going to sustain the Polish economy over the longer term or if it is to be a burden for the country," it said.

Last year, the Polish Institute of International Affairs warned of mounting energy costs and conflicts with other member states unless more ambitious climate policies are put in place.

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