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Poland’s energy strategy deadlock threatens EU climate goals, Instrat Foundation says

Poland’s lawmakers are struggling to agree on the country’s long-term energy policy which is placing the EU climate targets at risk, according to a new report by the Warsaw-based think tank, Instrat Foundation.

The government’s discussions have focused on a 50 per cent share of renewable energy sources (RES) target in meeting electricity demand by the end of the decade. However, the government’s coalition partner has been opposing the final text of Poland’s Energy Policy until 2040 (PEP2040) drafted by the Ministry of Climate and the Environment.

According to unconfirmed reports, an updated version of PEP2040 could introduce a lowered 47 per cent share of the RES target to meet electricity demand by 2030.

The political standoff between the government’s majority party (PiS) and its coalition partner (Solidarna Polska) over the adoption of an updated energy strategy could have “long-term repercussions” not only for Poland but also for the whole of the EU, said Michał Smoleń, head of the Energy & Climate program at Instrat. Despite the potential positive impact of the policy, the impasse raises questions about Poland’s commitment to meeting the EU’s climate goals, Instrat said.

Instrat’s report said that a more ambitious deployment of RES is “achievable” and could also lead to significant savings on natural gas purchases, CO2 emission allowances, and electricity imports.

Instrat experts conducted an analysis of two paths for RES development in Poland – a high-ambition scenario (68 per cent) and a medium-ambition scenario (53 per cent). Both options would significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuels in power generation – however, only the high-ambition scenario aligns with the EU’s climate goals. In both scenarios, the barriers to RES development are mostly administrative and infrastructural, not economic, the Warsaw think-tank said.

Michał Smoleń emphasised that PV and onshore wind power are currently the most cost-effective sources of electricity. The government’s deadlock on a RES-promoting strategy is expected to have serious financial implications for Polish citizens, according to Instrat.

Instrat: gaps in renewable energy could lead to higher prices

Poland stands to gain “significant financial benefits” by adopting a high RES ambition scenario by 2030, Instrat’s report said. The think-tank’s analysis showed that Poland could save up to eight billion euros in the costs of natural gas purchases, carbon emission allowances, and electricity imports in the high RES ambition scenario compared to the medium-ambition scenario (total for 2026-2030). This amounts to approximately one per cent of Poland’s GDP from last year.

Additionally, the study revealed that an additional 17.5 GW of investment in RES, as outlined in the high-ambition scenario, could pay for itself as early as the middle of the next decade.

In 2030, Polish emissions from the electric power industry in the medium-ambition scenario would reach 40 million tons of carbon emissions versus 35 million tons in the high-ambition scenario. “The higher ambition level of RES development could avoid up to 20 million tons of CO2 emissions over this decade. This will make it easier for Poland to meet the ambitious EU CO2 reduction targets outlined in the Fit for 55 packages and the REPowerEU proposal,” said Patryk Kubiczek, Instrat’s energy modelling expert.

“Our [Polish] government has to break the deadlock as soon as possible and adopt the strategic energy plans with high RES ambitions, namely the new PEP2040 and the updated Polish NECP. Moreover, without unlocking onshore wind power, removing administrative barriers, launching an unprecedented electricity grid modernisation programme, and increasing the flexibility of our system, we will follow a path of medium-ambition at best. And this does not fulfil the EU climate goals. For Poland, this will result in a greater dependence on fossil fuels, most notably imported natural gas. For the rest of the EU, it may just mean jeopardising the achievement of its climate goals,” Mr Smoleń said.

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