IEA urges Polish government to integrate its energy and climate strategies

2 March 2011

A report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends that Poland’s climate and energy strategies need to be integrated in order to achieve the two goals of energy security and environmental sustainability in the most effective way, while avoiding conflicting and overlapping policies.

The study flags energy efficiency – often the most cost-effective way to save energy and carbon emissions – as an essential aspect of this combined policy.

“We urge the government to develop an integrated approach to energy and climate policy, and make energy efficiency an important element of this integrated policy,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA, who was speaking at the launch of the report in Warsaw on 2 March.

This report, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Poland 2011 Review, is the first IEA in-depth review of Poland since it became a member of the Agency in 2008. These reviews are a core activity of the IEA, and new reports are written on member countries every five years. The report was drafted in close collaboration with the Polish government, which accepted all of the recommendations.

Strengthening security

The IEA report highlights Poland’s progress in enhancing its energy security and welcomes the government’s efforts to diversify Poland’s energy mix, currently dominated by coal, which currently 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. This will be a welcome diversification of the country’s energy sources, increasing security of supply while helping to cut CO2 emissions.

“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,” Mr Tanaka said.

At present, over 80% of Poland’s gas imports come from Russia. To reduce this significant reliance, key actions in the gas sector include building a liquefied natural gas (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.

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. Mining of lignite [a type of coal, often referred to as ‘brown coal’] is generally more competitive compared to hard coal, but even here shortages can be expected from 2015 onwards unless new mines are opened.”

The Executive Director, therefore, encouraged the government to continue enhancing energy security by diversifying energy sources and routes of supplies, and by developing close ties with neighboring countries.

Climate challenges

Another main challenge facing Poland, according to the report, is its carbon emissions. Although improvements have been made to address this concern over the last two decades, the report says that levels of CO2 are still much higher than average when compared with other European IEA member countries. According to government forecasts, Poland’s emissions are set to increase further from 2020.

The report, therefore, recommends: “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.”

Mr Tanaka said that Poland has a unique opportunity to decarbonise its power sector as its ageing generation infrastructure needs to be replaced in the coming years.

He stressed that as this requires massive investment – EUR 195 billion between 2010 and 2030, assuming no new policy initiatives in the energy sector are introduced beyond those already adopted by the first quarter of 2010 – the government should improve policy and regulatory frameworks to attract the necessary funding by energy sector companies.

“Investment decisions made in the energy sector over the coming decade will set Poland’s long-term emissions trajectory,” he said. “That’s why energy and climate strategies need to be integrated now to meet the dual goals of energy security and environmental sustainability.”

Click here to read the Press release

Click here to purchase the report

Key questions

What is energy security?
The uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.

What is energy efficiency?
Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input. For example, when a compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is considered to be more energy efficient.

What is ‘unconventional’ gas?
‘Unconventional’ sources of gas are trapped deep underground by impermeable rocks, such as coal, sandstone and shale. The three main types of ‘unconventional’ gas are: shale gas (found in shale deposits); coal bed methane, or CBM (extracted from coal beds) and tight gas (which is trapped underground in impermeable rock formations).

Photo: Polish Flag. © Creative Commons - Kpalion