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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 3, 2008
Technology
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The Broad Picture
December 3, 2008   
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Prof. Jerzy Buzek, former Polish prime minister, a member of the European Parliament and its rapporteur on the development of energy technology in the European Union:

The European Union has set itself some ambitious environmental goals up to 2020: a 20-percent growth in energy efficiency, a 20-percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions, 20 percent of energy consumption to come from renewable sources, and 10 percent of motor vehicle fuel consumption to come from biofuels. This means a huge challenge for Poland.

I think that what could and should develop well in our conditions-as far as renewable energy is concerned-are biogas plants. Electricity from gas produced from plant waste-a fully renewable source-is a good option. The development of biogas facilities is also a huge opportunity for rural Poland, for farmers.

The best wind conditions are in coastal areas, and that's where wind farms will be set up. Solar energy in our climate can be and is used as a supplementary source of heat, but on a relatively small scale. Then there's geothermal energy. So far attempts to use geothermal energy have given little cause for optimism, though of course it should be utilized as much as possible, wherever possible.

However, this kind of production is dispersed and conducted on a small scale, or in the case of wind farms-a variable scale. Incorporating this energy into the whole system would require modification of the existing network or building a whole new intelligent power grid covering the entire country.

If Poland obtains 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 12 years' time, it will still have to produce the rest by other means. I don't think we can avoid the necessity of building nuclear power plants. From two nuclear power plants, we would obtain another 15 percent of energy for our overall balance-unless we focus on conservation because there is no doubt that we waste an exceptionally large amount of energy in Poland. Perhaps then we won't have to build nuclear reactors.

The remaining 70 percent will come from coal and coal only-our national treasure. We have to learn new, environmentally-friendly technologies for utilizing our coal resources. That's the most important thing for Poland. I am convinced that mastering clean coal technologies will allow Poland to maintain its energy independence and keep a relatively low price for energy.
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