Energy 19 October, 2023 7:30 am   
COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Experts on election promises: Majority in favor of energy transition

Turów power plant. Picture by PGE GiEK Turów power plant. Picture by PGE GiEK

The Energy Forum summarized the election promises of individual parties regarding the future of the energy sector in Poland and compared them with the opinions of experts. “The victorious opposition groups differ a lot, but they share a positive attitude to the green transition. The new government will have to get to work right away,” says Paweł Wiejski, one of the experts interviewed by the Energy Forum on energy policy after the change of government in Poland.

The Energy Forum has compiled the energy and climate platforms of the parties that are most likely to form the government.

Civic Coalition

Proposal 62: “We will reduce the cost of farming by providing support for investments in biogas plants, photovoltaic farms and heat pumps”.

Proposal 82: “We will establish the Ministry of Industry based in Silesia”.

Proposal 84: “We will restore favorable rules for settling energy generated by prosumers – lower electricity bills for those who invest in PVs”.

Proposal 85: “We will enable the creation of 700 local energy communities that will generate their own, cheaper electricity.”

Proposal 86: “We will submit a bill unlocking the possibility of developing onshore wind (reducing the distance to 500 m) with clear and fast rules for issuing decisions on construction and connection. Local communities will receive 5 percent of the proceeds from the sale of energy.”

Proposal 87: “We will ‘freeze ‘ gas prices in 2024 for households and vulnerable consumers at the level of 2023 prices.”

Proposal 88: “We will present a detailed energy transition plan that will reduce CO2 emissions by 75 percent by 2030. We will accelerate the development of low-carbon energy sources (RES and nuclear). We will provide the basis for a coherent nuclear energy development programme and define precisely how it will be financed.”

Third Way

The List of Common Issues from March 2023:

“Green energy: Poland’s energy transformation, freeing energy from renewable energy sources: wind farms, photovoltaics and biogas plants. Support communities and counties in investing in this technology. Homeowners, residents of apartment complexes, farmers and entrepreneurs-local communities and municipalities as investors and owners of renewable energy infrastructure, will be the biggest beneficiaries of the green energy transition, providing clean and cheap electricity from the sun, wind and biogas plants. The people will get rich on green energy, not big state-owned companies. Small power plants in homes and communities will ensure energy security and independence, also becoming a key element in stopping climate change and protecting the environment.”

“6 guarantees” of the Third Way:

Energy for the citizens. People, entrepreneurs and municipalities are to make money from green energy. If an investor sets up a wind or a PV farm in your municipality, you will pay lower electricity bills due to the fact that you it is your neighbor.

The Left

Poland’s energy resilience

“We need to be a country that is both energy secure and serious about climate change. Instead of depending on raw materials from Russia and other dictatorships, we will focus on developing renewable and nuclear energy. Moving away from fossil fuels is a civilizational necessity. We will support Polish and European research in the field of clean energy, energy efficiency and energy storage.”

Green light for renewable energy

“Thanks to public investments in solar panels and offshore and onshore wind, most of the electricity consumed in the economy will come from renewable energy in 2035. We will unlock the development of RES by, among others, easing harmful distance regulations and developing energy storage capabilities, thanks to, among others, pumped hydroelectric energy storage. We will develop biogas and biomethane plants in rural areas. In the coming years, thanks to adding nuclear power, we will have a zero-emission energy mix. Stable energy generation with its participation will also allow the production of green hydrogen for transport and the chemical industry.”

Electrification program

“We will carry out a thorough modernization of the Polish transmission and distribution network in order to reduce energy losses during transmission, reduce electricity bills and reduce the number of failures. The investment will also allow the network to adapt to a new geographical distribution of generation capacity and a greater number of non-controllable distributed sources.”

Lower heating bills

“We will introduce universal funding for the program of thermal modernization and replacement of heat sources in buildings. We will reduce the amount of bureaucracy needed to obtain public support in this area. We will modernize the existing heating systems to ensure they do not produce any emissions and we will increase the number of connection to district heating. An energy advisor will be available in each municipality to help determine priorities for the thermal modernization of buildings.”

Power for every budget

“We will reduce electricity prices by introducing a cheaper tariff to the level of average energy consumption in households with similar characteristics. We will limit the amount of energy price increases.”

Jointly owned energy

“We will introduce legal facilitation for the creation and development of energy cooperatives and municipal energy clusters, co-managed by residents, including a priority in efforts to co-finance. Everyone will be able to benefit from clean energy by becoming a shareholder – and thus an energy producer – in an energy cooperative, also in cities. We will involve citizens in the decision-making and investment process of public investments in RES, so that no one is left behind.”

The European Energy Union

“We support the strengthening of energy cooperation within the European Union. We will rely on EU cooperation in sourcing raw materials to lower their prices and prevent suppliers from playing against each other. The European Union needs an effective system to promote and finance a fair energy and economic transition. We will seek to replace the current EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) with a more predictable and less speculative charging system. Until then, we will guarantee that every zloty from the ETS will be used to reduce the carbon and environmental footprint in Poland.”

Expert opinions

“Many important decisions on energy have to wait for the appointment of the new government. These include nuclear energy, improving the functioning of RES in the network, the pace of phasing out coal, or a fair transition in Turów and Bełchatów. If the opposition forms a government, it should be expected that it will speed up the transition and improve cooperation at the European level. The victory of the opposition gives an opportunity to unlock funds from the NRP, which is of great importance for solving the problem of fuel and electricity prices, as well as for determining the course of transformation. Regardless of the final shape of the new government, it will be necessary to get to work right away,” writes Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, PhD., Director of Power Sector Programme at Forum Energii.

“After years of government procrastination and constant internal disputes, Poland needs clear declarations and bold actions to accelerate the energy transition. The Civic Coalition has presented renewable energy development goals in line with technical and economic trends, while other opposition parties also express support for the development of clean, cheap energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. However, not all the decisions that Poland’s energy industry needs, will be so simple and popular. The new government will have to plan a move away from crisis interventions in the electricity market and create a stable environment for new investments. We are facing difficult decisions regarding the structure of the Polish energy market, including, for example, the idea of a financial model for some coal assets after 2025, or the postulated separation of distribution networks from existing companies. Decisions on how to pay for nuclear energy projects also need to be made. The clear declarations about the speed of the transition must be followed by a return to honest discussions with social partners, including the people employed in mining and the energy industry, as well as communities from coal regions. We can no longer pretend that the positive changes initiated already in this term (development of solar energy, unlocking wind on land, the Offshore Wind Energy program) will not affect the decrease in demand for carbon – intensive, expensive coal from domestic mines,” writes Michał Smoleń, Head of the Energy & Climate Research Program, Instrat Foundation.

“The new government has a chance to engage constructively in the European debate on new climate and energy targets for 2040, which will begin in a few months. In the next step, we are also waiting for a new package of decisions on further regulations and tools for financing the transformation – and here it is very important to focus on negotiating favorable provisions for Poland. In practice, the outgoing government’s policy of consistently rejecting all EU climate reforms in recent years has resulted in us being excluded from the decision – making process-in the end, the key solutions from the Fit for 55 package were voted on without our participation, but will still apply to us. Returning to constructive negotiations would therefore mean re-empowering our country in the discussion about building a climate-neutral economy in Europe,” emphasizes Aleksander Śniegocki, President of the Institute of Reforms.

“One of the key decisions to be taken in the first weeks after the new government is appointed is to officially adopt the climate neutrality target for 2050 and start reviewing the strategy papers in this regard. We need comprehensive reforms in planning for the development and financing of energy infrastructure in order to ensure a rapid increase in investments in zero – emission energy sources and improve energy efficiency in the coming years,” he pointed out.

“The new government should start preparing Poland from the very first days to take advantage of the opportunities created by the launch of the new Social Climate Fund in 2026. A well-prepared and widely consulted plan for the use of the Fund will make it possible to effectively combat energy poverty and transport exclusion, while neglecting this topic will come back to bite us at the end of the term, in 2027, when the new ETS2 system covering buildings and transport will be launched,” Śniegocki wrote.

“The new coalition government faces an opportunity to change the paradigm of thinking about climate policy and the energy transition. We can get out of the vicious circle of one term and the myopia of current politics. Poland needs a multi-year framework for economic transformation and climate neutrality. A coalition government can change the rules of the game and create mechanisms for long-term cooperation for a green transition. We need an expert council independent of the government that will set directions and review the government’s climate policy,” commented Marcin Korolec, President of the Institute for Green Economy.

“The victorious opposition groups differ a lot, but they share a positive attitude to the green transition. The new government will have to get to work immediately. Years of neglect by the United Right have left Poland’s climate and energy policies in deep crisis. It is necessary to unlock EU funds for the transformation from the National Recovery Plan as soon as possible, remove barriers to the development of RES, take seriously the modernization of the grid and significantly accelerate the transition away from coal. It will not be easy, but the bold decisions taken today will ensure Poland’s energy security, cheap and affordable energy, new jobs, clean air and a healthy environment,” writes Paweł Wiejski from the Institute of Green Economy.

“The new government of the democratic opposition has a chance to right the original sin of Polish investments. We need a climate regulatory impact assessment (so-called RIA). Every major investment should be evaluated in terms of climate impact. In the election programs and statements of the opposition, one can see the awareness of the need for changes in this area. We have a chance to introduce the so-called green RIA in the new term,” emphasizes Hubert Różyk from the Institute of Green Economy.