Poland could double renewables ambition and halve gas expansion in its upcoming PEP2040 energy strategy

  • Warsaw

  • 6 February 2023

New analysis from think tanks Ember and Reform Institute finds that Poland could deliver twice the renewables capacity by 2040 compared to draft targets. Current proposals aim for 50-60 GW of capacity, but Poland could double that ambition to build 100 GW of renewables capacity by 2040, as shown by a broad range of studies.

Increased renewables targets would allow Poland to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, which have become increasingly costly over the last few years. As a route to a more secure and cost-effective power system in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the rest of Europe has moved rapidly to reduce plans for coal and fossil gas use and quickly build renewables. Under current plans, Poland is set to be the last major EU economy with less than half of its power coming from clean sources by 2030, and possibly the only one not targeting net-zero in the power sector by 2040. 

Aleksander Śniegocki, CEO at Reform Institute said:

Poland is at risk of trading one costly fossil fuel for another, when the real solution is within reach: building as much cheap, renewable capacity as quickly as possible.

The analysis recommends that Poland adopt a strategy where fossil fuels assume a role as reserve capacity while rapidly building out renewables. Under this approach, regardless of available capacity, the actual burn time of fossil fuels is minimised in preference for generation from lower cost renewable sources where available. In fact, research shows that Poland could balance its power system with half of the gas generation assumed in the current PEP2040.

Several existing barriers need to be addressed for this scale of renewables expansion, including Poland’s highly restrictive 10H spatial planning rule which effectively blocks onshore wind potential, and permitting timelines that exceed EU standards.The government should also focus on improving grid connection procedures and improve long-term grid expansion planning, says the report.

As clean power becomes the norm across the rest of Europe, businesses will start to look elsewhere for cheaper, lower emissions electricity. Poland has the chance to correct course with its upcoming strategy and seize the opportunity of low cost renewable power.

Dr Paweł Czyżak Senior Energy & Climate Data Analyst, Ember