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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 19, 2008
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Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Instead of Power Plants?
November 19, 2008   
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If every household in Poland replaced two traditional 100W light bulbs with energy-saving 21W ones, 1,990 MW of power would be saved nationwide; this would be 8 percent of the total electrical energy used in the country, according to experts from the Climate Coalition, an association of Polish nongovernmental organizations aiming to prevent global climate change.

The cost to the government of giving every Polish family two energy-saving bulbs, some zl.665 million in all, would be six times less than the cost of a 2,000 MW gas-fired power plant, 18 times less than the cost of a coal-fired power plant of the same capacity, and 21 times less than the cost of a nuclear power plant producing the same volume of electricity, the association says.

The association has developed its own plan for Poland's energy policy as an alternative to a proposal drafted by the Ministry of the Economy. The government draft, which regulates Poland's energy policy until 2030, has caused a lot of controversy because it calls for the construction of three nuclear power plants in the country.

The Climate Coalition wants to encourage the government to seek unconventional solutions in developing and planning the country's energy policy. In its proposal, the association lists investment projects that it considers to be the most worthwhile in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially important, the association says, because as of 2013 Poland will gain the right to trade carbon dioxide emission permits, which could bring great benefits to the country, according to the Climate Coalition.

These tradable permits are a new environmental protection instrument. They carry financial benefits for industrial plants applying technologies that effectively reduce environmental pollution. The basis for the permit trade is the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This chiefly applies to carbon dioxide, methane, dinitrogen monoxide, and fluorine compounds.

Carbon dioxide permits will be traded in three ways: on a special exchange (six exchanges of this type are in operation today), through a broker, and by means of direct transactions with other companies.

Poland will have significant potential in the trade of permits, experts say, because its current carbon-dioxide emission levels are lower than the quota allotted to Poland under the Kyoto Protocol. Estimates put the surplus at 17 million metric tons per year, which, once sold, could be used to finance environmental protection projects.

The Climate Coalition says that investing 1.2 billion euros into energy conservation projects could reduce the need to buy emission permits to the tune of another 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant built for the same money would reduce that amount by only 3.5 million tons, according to the association.

The same goes for the profitability of building wind power plants compared with nuclear power plants, according to the Climate Coalition. Every 10 billion euros invested in wind power would yield about 10,000 MW of renewable energy that does not require emission permits. To build a nuclear power plant of the same capacity, one needs to invest at least twice as much, the association says.

"Another alternative to building nuclear power plants is energy conservation, especially as Poland is two to three times less efficient in this area than Western Europe," says Andrzej Kassenberg, chairman of the Institute for Sustainable Development, one of the organizations making up the Climate Coalition. Replacing nuclear power plants with small local energy sources that use wind, solar and water power as well as biomass means not only protecting the environment but also creating many new jobs, especially in rural areas, Kassenberg says. "This kind of investment could ensure Poland self-sufficiency, energy security and independence from external suppliers," he says.

Julia Pawłowska

Climate Campaigners

The Climate Coalition is an alliance of Polish nongovernmental organizations working against climate change. It was formed on June 22, 2002 during a conference on global warming held in the town of Kazimierz Dolny, 140 km southeast of Warsaw. The alliance strives to initiate and support activities aimed at developing and pursuing an active climate policy in Poland.
The Climate Coalition brings together organizations such as:
- Lower Silesian Eco-Development Foundation
- Aeris Futuro Foundation
- Polish Foundation for Energy Efficiency
- Legnica Region Ecological Foundation - Green Action
- Arka Ecology Foundation
- Institute for Sustainable Development
- Gaja Club
- Nature Conservation League
- Polish Green Network
- Polish Ecological Club
- Social Ecological Institute
- Eko-Unia Ecological Association
- Green Mazovia
- Center for Clean Air Policy
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