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The Warsaw Voice » Other » March 4, 2009
ENERGY SECURITY & ENVIRONMENT
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New Energy Policy
March 4, 2009 By A.R.    
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Energy efficiency and the security of energy supply based on domestic raw material resources; greater use of renewable sources of energy; development of competitive fuel and energy markets; and limiting the energy sector's impact on the environment-these are the priorities of the draft document Energy Policy for Poland Until 2030 drawn up by the economy ministry.

The draft, announced by the ministry last year, marks a radical shift in the government's approach to domestic energy resources. Under the draft, Poland's energy security would be based on the country's own raw materials, particularly coal. This should help make Polish electricity production independent and heat generation far less dependent on external suppliers, officials say.

In terms of oil, liquid fuels and natural gas, the document calls for diversifying both the technology and suppliers. "This explains why we will support the development of technology for producing liquid and gas fuels from domestic raw materials," said economy minister Waldemar Pawlak.

Forecasts for electricity demand show that Poland needs to expand its power generation capacity, officials say. Meanwhile, EU greenhouse gas emissions limits force the country to develop low-emission technology in electricity generation. According to the ministry, Poland should continue using coal to generate power, but should strive to make sure these coal-based technologies help reduce air pollution and make it possible to significantly limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Poland will also consider developing nuclear energy, Pawlak said. The country is already involved in the construction of the Ignalina II nuclear power plant in Lithuania in a joint Lithuanian-Polish-Latvian-Estonian project that is expected to be completed in 2015. Also, a joint nuclear power project with Ukraine is possible, Pawlak said.

Economy ministry experts say the development of renewable energy is important for the country's energy policy. This is because production of energy from renewable sources leads to a positive environmental effect and stimulates the development of economically weaker regions.

The ministry intends to focus on promoting biofuels, particularly among residents in big cities, and to make better use of geothermal energy available in the country.

Under the draft, energy efficiency will be a key priority, and progress in this area will be the basic condition for attaining the goals listed in the document. The ministry plans to improve the efficiency of energy generation, transmission, distribution and consumption. To this end it wants to use instruments such as a system of "white certificates" that officials say will guarantee financial benefits for the biggest energy savers.

The ministry also wants to encourage the production of electricity and heat with the use of efficient cogeneration technology, particularly by small facilities with a capacity of less than 1 megawatt.

Efforts to reform the energy sector also include the need to stimulate the development of competitive fuel and energy markets in order to reduce energy generation costs and limit the growth of fuel and energy prices, Pawlak says.

The ministry plans to deal with the problem of the country's dependence on a single supplier for natural gas and oil. It also wants to change the rules governing the sale of electricity, introduce market rules for heat prices, and remove administrative obstacles for customers wanting to change their electricity and natural gas suppliers.

"We cannot interfere with the development of the fuel and energy markets with unnecessary administrative decisions," said Pawlak. "We want to help users change their electricity and natural gas suppliers so that this process is as easy as changing one's telecommunications operator." To this end, Poland should follow the EU principle of separating energy generation from transmission and distribution in terms of ownership, officials say.

The ministry is also working on a new system of obligatory fuel reserves. At present, producers and importers of fuels have to keep such reserves on their own. Under the new system, they will have to pay a special state agency to maintain the reserves.

Poland will abide by its environmental protection obligations and focus on limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the ministry says. The government plans to support the development of environmentally-friendly technology in the production of energy, including coal gasification and carbon capture and storage technologies.
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