In a recent development, Poland’s top climate official has gone on to say that the country is on the verge of setting a date for an absolute phase-out of coal-fired power generation, only months after the nation went on to elect a new government that has gone on to pledge to support the environmental policies of the European Union.
It is well to be noted that Poland, which at present gets around 70% of its electricity by way of burning coal and has for long been Europe’s largest producer in terms of fuel, has been slowly growing its usage of solar as well as wind power. On January 10, the Polish Wind Energy Association remarked that the country now happens to have over 9 GW of installed onshore wind power capacity and even has plans to start coming up with its first offshore wind farm in 2025. Apparently, Poland also happens to be moving forward with its plans for the nation’s first utility-nuclear power plant, in addition to signing contracts when it comes to the installation of small modular reactors- SMRs.
Significantly, a Warsaw-based group on January 11 opined that Poland must end coal-fired power generation by 2035. Forum Energii, in its report, highlighted that coal plants will no longer be viable economically by the middle of the next decade. Apparently, Poland happens to be the home to Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant, which is the 5.1-GW Belchatow power station. Belchatow, which is located in Rogowiec, happens to have over a dozen units, including an 858-MW supercritical unit that was commissioned in 2012. Notably, the plant entered operations in 1982.
Final Date for Coal
Poland’s Secretary of State for Climate, Urszula Zielinska, in a meeting in Belgium’s Brussels on January 15, remarked that only with an end date in terms of coal can one go on to plan, and only with an end date the sector can plan, people can plan. Absolutely, they are going to be looking to set the end date. Zielinska, who happens to be appointed to her post in December 2023, went on to say that officials are studying the nation’s energy as well as climate strategies. She added that any government actions would get support for workers as well as other industries that would be affected due to the move away from coal.
Apparently, it is all under revision, with an idea to step up the endeavours and, at the same time, secure the people who may get affected the most, the industries as well, so as to ensure that the industries are really smoothly shifted into new green branches, she said. Zielinska also added that Poland is prepared to be aligned with the EU target to slash carbon emissions by almost 90% by 2040.
It is worth noting that the parliament of Poland’s in December 2023 elected Donald Tusk as the prime minister, who happens to be a centrist party leader, only two months after the national election, ousted the members of the conservative Law and Justice- PiS party, which had been ruling Poland for eight years and more often clashed with the EU, were elected. Importantly, the country is a member of both the EU as well as NATO.
Interestingly, the PiS government happened to have an agreement with Polish trade unions to go ahead with coal mining until 2049 at least. Apparently, that government opposed some of the EU’s environmental steps, and in 2023, it even filed a court challenge as it was looking to cancel the bloc’s climate policies. That legal action went on to include overturning an EU ban when it came to combustion engine vehicles which could very well take effect by 2035. Poland happened to be the only member of the EU to have voted against that measure.