IEA commends Poland’s energy policy achievements and calls for greater focus on climate change, energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the power sector

2 March 2011

Poland has made impressive efforts over recent years to develop a solid energy policy framework,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the launch today in Warsaw of the new publication Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Poland 2011 Review. Mr. Tanaka praised the government’s recently launched energy policy strategy to 2030 (EPP 2030), and said “Timely implementation of the EPP 2030, including its Action Plan for the Years 2009-2012, will provide a sound foundation for clean, clever and competitive energy future in Poland.”

The IEA report reveals Poland’s progress in enhancing energy security. In the gas sector, key actions include building an LNG terminal, expanding underground storage capacity, extending the transmission and distribution system, increasing domestic gas production and exploring possible resources of unconventional gas. “All these efforts should be continued and enhanced to meet the expected growth in gas demand”, noted Mr. Tanaka.

Furthermore, the review welcomed the government’s efforts to diversify Poland’s energy mix, currently dominated by coal, which accounts for 55% of primary energy supply and over 90% of electricity generation. Poland’s ambitious nuclear energy programme envisages at least three nuclear units by 2030, with the first to be commissioned by 2022. “The government has a well-structured plan to prepare its nuclear programme, including institutional and legal frameworks for nuclear regulation and the management of radioactive waste”, said Mr. Tanaka.

IEA analysis also emphasised Poland’s future-oriented lead in clean coal technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS). While the economic viability of CCS is uncertain at this stage, it will be important to continue research, pilot and demonstration work in this field.

Despite these achievements, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Poland 2011 Review identifies a number of challenges. The CO2 intensity of the Polish economy has declined dramatically over the last 20 years, but is still much higher than the average among European IEA member countries. According to government forecasts, emissions are expected to increase from 2020. “Like other countries, Poland must raise climate change to the top of the national policy agenda and take crucial decisions in order to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions”, is one key recommendation.

Poland has a unique opportunity to decarbonise its power sector as its ageing generation infrastructure needs to be replaced in the coming years. This requires large investment, so the government should improve the policy and regulatory frameworks to attract this investment. Mr. Tanaka cautioned however against a technology lock-in. “Investment decisions made over the coming decade will set Poland’s long-term emissions trajectory. That’s why energy and climate strategies need to be integrated now to meet the dual goals of energy security and environmental sustainability.”

To achieve this, the report points out that the key CO2 abatement tool in Poland and globally is energy efficiency, especially in the short term. Renewable energy, CCS and nuclear also play a significant role. EPP 2030 sets ambitious energy efficiency objectives. This ambition must be underpinned by measurable targets and a clear delivery plan. The IEA report draws the government’s attention to two sectors in particular– buildings and transport. Gas can play a positive role in decarbonising the electricity mix, especially if Poland’s potential resources of shale gas are confirmed.

Referring to the perception of Poland’s rich coal resources as a guarantee of energy security, Mr. Tanaka warned: “Economically recoverable hard coal reserves in Poland are declining and production is likely to decrease considerably by 2030. Lignite mining is generally more competitive, but even here shortages can be expected from 2015 onwards unless new mines are opened.” Therefore he encouraged the government to continue enhancing energy security by diversifying energy sources and routes of supplies, and by supporting interconnections with neighboring countries.

The IEA Executive Director also encouraged the government to strive for more competitive gas and electricity markets. “Well-functioning markets underpin security of energy supply and deliver greater efficiency and service quality to consumers.”

Mr. Tanaka concluded by urging the government to develop an integrated approach to energy and climate policy and make energy efficiency an even more important element of this policy.