EU’s climate and energy deals ‘disadvantageous for Poland”

This article is part of our special report Access to Energy.

Big EU countries such as France and Germany suggest that Poland should reduce its dependence on coal for its electricity. But Mieczys?aw Kasprzak explains why coal is so important to the country. 

Mieczys?aw Kasprzak is secretary of state at the Polish Ministry of Economy. He spoke to EURACTIV Poland chief editor Maria Graczyk.

Poland, which gets about 90% of its electricity from coal, published a draft ‘Renewables bill’ last December, aimed at spurring alternative energy. Amendments have been introduced since and consultations on the new draft bill have now come to an end. What is the philosophy of the bill?

The bill focuses on the process of exploitation. The differentiation of support is derived from three main factors: the type of source, the power which is installed and, finally, the year in which the project is put into operation. In the process of determining support, these three factors are taken into consideration. The older the device means that less support may be expected. Secondly, the smaller the source, the greater is support it needs, due to the unit costs attached.

The type of the source is also of great significance. There are sources which generate power at a lower cost as well as sources whose cost of generating one megawatt hour (MW-h) is higher. The higher the cost, the greater degree of support is foreseen.

The fragmentation of the production of energy, or its diversification, is also one of the key points of the bill and the policy. Our concern is to produce energy in small plants, as close to the final consumer as possible, in order to avoid its waste while it is transferred. We would also like to let people produce heat and power themselves.

How much green energy does Poland have?

At present 7.7% of electric power comes from renewable sources. The number should increase to 15% by 2020. The percentage, however, includes the power from bio-components added to liquid fuel and liquid biofuel in the transport sector. The aimed share of renewable energy in transport for 2020 has been set at 10%. To put this into perspective, the share of bio-components and other renewable fuels in transport fuels in 2011 amounted to 6.25%.

On the one hand, the government heralds the support for renewable energy, but on the other hand, it considers building a nuclear plant….

These are complementary solutions. Renewable energy will not meet total energy needs. Today for Poland, brown and hard bituminous coal are fundamental for its energy. And this state of affairs is to remain for a long time.

The fact that meeting the EU requirements will cost 5 to 13 billion zlotys (1.2 billion to 3 billion) a year means that the money will have to be put in anyway. Perhaps even stronger endorsement of pro-environmental projects that would entail the reduction of carbon dioxide emission is worth considering?

It is not we, as a country, that will incur the cost of 5-13 billion zlotys but the final consumer. A conventional source is still cheaper nowadays. That is why various actions need to be taken simultaneously.

Professor Andrzej Kraszewski recently highlighted how disadvantageous is the EU’s climate and energy package for Poland. In his opinion, it is of interest mainly for a few large member states of the EU.

It is disadvantageous for Poland because we pay the price for ages of using coal and such a situation cannot be changed within 5, 10 or even 50 years. Germany and France built too many nuclear plants and they have an excess of energy today. They suggest that we should give up our own power industry as well as coal and buy their energy or devices for generating it.

What if the Union still pushes forward its goal for the reduction of CO2? Even though Poland blocked the resolution calling on the European Commission to put in place a new policy framework for low-carbon energy up to 2030, Brussels can still ignore it by means of directives and other regulations.

But who can handle this? Neither the national economy, nor industry can. The Union has to adopt a rational perspective if it aims at a well-developing country. Otherwise it may expect to get a second Greece.

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