Poland’s climate ministry has unveiled an updated energy strategy for the next two decades which envisions the possibility of a quicker departure from the country’s reliance on coal than previously planned.

Polish Energy Politics 2040, or PEP 2040, outlines a target to wean Poland off coal and towards nuclear and renewable sources of energy. The country currently relies on coal for around 73% of its energy production, the highest level in the European Union.

Poland overtakes Germany as EU’s biggest coal generator

According to the ministry’s new strategy, that share would drop to 56% in 10 years and 28% in 20 years. However, in a scenario with high prices for carbon emissions permits issued by the EU, those figures could be revised to 37% and 11% respectively.

Poland’s minister for state assets, Jacek Sasin, recently revealed that the requirements “imposed on us by European policy” meant that the government was planning to end the use of coal as an energy source by 2060.

Previous plans published in late 2019 by the then energy minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski had set out targets for coal’s share of energy production at 56-60% in 2030 and 28% in 2040.

The new PEP 2040 also aims for Poland to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% in 10 years. That is below the EU’s current target of 40% – a figure that is soon likely to be increased by the European Commission.

Poland is the only member state not to have signed up to the EU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, meaning that, according to the currently planned EU budget, it will only have access to 50% of possible funds for energy transition.

PEP 2040 assumes that Poland would receive around 60 billion zloty of EU transition funds over the next decade, reports WNP.

Poland to end use of coal by 2060 due “EU policies imposed on us”

“Compared with the previous plan, [the new PEP 2040] is a small step forward,” says Oskar Kulik, climate and energy policy officer at WWF in Poland, speaking to Gazeta.pl.

However, he adds that “the projected share of coal in energy production in 2030 and its further use after 2030 is clearly contrary to the climate goals resulting from the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports”.

“If we want to limit climate change to the level of 1.5 degrees, then all OECD countries – including Poland – must withdraw coal from their energy sectors by 2030,” stressed Kulik. The new plan has no stated deadline for the total withdrawal from coal-powered energy.

Kulik also warns that, with the European Commission just about to increase targets for reducing carbon emissions, the Polish government has “created a document that will be useless in a week’s time because it will not show how to get closer to this more ambitious goal”.

Billions for green energy: Poland slowly comes around to renewables

The climate ministry has handed its proposal over to the prime minister’s office for further work. On 10 September the draft will also be discussed with the mining industry, which has in the past torpedoed ambitious proposals to limit Poland’s reliance on coal, reports Business Insider.

The new plan maintains the aim of building Poland’s first nuclear power station by 2033. The government intends to have six operational nuclear blocks by 2040, at an investment of 150 billion zloty, bringing nuclear capacity to 6-9 gigawatts by 2043 – a tenth of the country’s power generation, reports Reuters.

It also expects to invest 130 billion zloty by 2040 into offshore wind farms to generate 8-11 gigawatts.

Climate minister Michał Kurtyka said in June that nuclear power will not only “accelerate carbon emissions reduction”, but also help Poland to ensure energy security by reducing reliance on hydrocarbon imports, which include notable amounts of Russian coal and gas.

Experts, however, have expressed doubts about the feasibility of the ambitious deadline.

Construction of Poland’s first nuclear power plant to begin in 2026

The new document also pushes for wider use of electric vehicles in public transport. The Polish government has been championing electric transport in recent years, with the aim to make the country an e-mobility powerhouse.

Poland is already one of the leading manufacturers of electric buses in Europe, with more than one in three electric buses in the EU built in the country, according to Electrive.com.

Poland’s first electric car brand Izera unveiled with prototypes

Main image credit: Dominik Werner/Greenpeace Polska (under CC BY-ND 2.0)

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