Polish Presidential Election: Implications for Renewable Energy

In the opinion of many, Civic Platform (PO) has grown a bit arrogant and very non-transparent in its model of governing. Pundits will have a dozen explanations for the election of Andrzej Duda yesterday, but wide-spread support for his party, Law and Justice (PiS), is not one of them. Voters signaled their concern about PO and wanted something else....just about anything else.

If this trend continues into the Parliamentary elections, as I think it will to a lesser degree, expect PiS gains but no majority. A weaker coalition government with PO, PSL and possibly SLD is the most likely outcome.

It is important to remember that all of the political parties are publicly pro-coal and none of them have a real program to address the growing economic and technological challenge in Polish energy to shift to the "next thing."  PiS is more likely to make foreign energy investors nervous, however, with their more xenophobic rhetoric.

PiS is widely described as anti-wind energy and worked hard in the so-called "Landscape Law" to restrict the possible locations for wind farms. It is difficult to see how this issue will be re-visited without an overwhelming PiS majority in the Parliament, one of the least likely scenarios.

PO stood alone against the prosumer amendment in the new renewable energy law. Some of the support for the law was obviously opportunistic, but PO has come out of the RES legislative experience with a reputation of being anti-green energy. The close connection between PO and PGE, the biggest state-owned utility and largest coal-fired power producer in Poland, has been notable. Will a new government inevitably bend the same way as the inducement of hundreds of political patronage appointments in the energy sector warps their perspective? In Poland, probably so.

 A weakened PO increases their need to rely on other political parties to form a government. And all of the options are for inclusion of parties with a somewhat greater sensitivity to green energy than PO. An outright PiS majority in Parliament could adversely affect wind energy in the auction mix in the future, but it is very difficult to come up with replacements for that much green electricity.

Since almost no politicians in Poland have any understanding of renewable energy and distributed energy (and largely want to remain ignorant), chaos theory will be the best predictor of the future of RES. Large amounts of inertia will prevail with a spattering of deliberate actions which will be in essentially random directions.

Don't look for any big changes.


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