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    Poland Accelerates Move from Coal


Poland has lowered its forecasts for coal's share of energy over the coming decades, as it invests in cleaner alternatives.

by: Joe Murphy

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Poland Accelerates Move from Coal

Poland has sped up plans to phase out the use of coal, under its updated energy strategy published on September 8, creating more room for gas.

The strategy now calls for coal's share in the country's power generation mix to be reduced from 75% to 37-56% by 2030 and 11-28% by 2040. Previously Poland expected coal's share at 56-60% in 2030 and 28% in 2040. 

How much coal is burned for power will depend on how the price of EU carbon emissions permits changes over the coming decades, Poland's climate ministry said. The permits' cost has risen considerably in recent years, and after a slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, rebounded to a 14-year high of over €30mn ($35.3)/metric ton of carbon in July.

This trend has driven up costs at coal-fired power plants, making them less competitive against cleaner alternatives such as gas. This has prompted investors to alter their plans, with PKN Orlen earlier this year dropping plans for a 1-GW coal plant in northeastern Poland in favour of a gas-fired station.

The updated strategy will be submitted to governmental committees for discussion and then become policy once approved by Poland's cabinet.

While gas stands to gain from the retiring of coal capacity, the strategy aims to replace much of it with wind and nuclear generation. It calls for zloty 130bn ($34.4bn) to be spent developing 8-11 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2040, and a further zloty 150bn on constructing 6-9 GW of nuclear capacity. The first 1.0-1.6-GW nuclear reactor is due to come on stream in 2033, with others following every two to three years.

The strategy also aims to boost solar capacity from 2.26 GW at present to 10-16 GW within 20 years.

The government sees gas only as a bridging fuel. But it is nevertheless investing in substantial new import infrastructure, including a 10bn m3/yr pipeline from Norway, 3.3bn 3/yr of extra capacity at its Swinoujscie LNG terminal and a second 4.5bn m3/yr LNG facility in Gdansk. These projects are scheduled for completion in 2022, 2023 and 2026-27 respectively.

Poland receives the bulk of its current gas supply from Russia, but its long-term supply contract with Gazprom runs out at the end of 2022 and it does not intend to renew the deal. Qatar and the US will be among its new suppliers.