The Possible New Government in Poland Seems to be Struck on Coal
While throughout Europe, the sun is setting on coal-fired power plants, Poland's likely new governing party seems eager to double down on "black" at the energy table. The Katowice convention of Law and Justice saw their key people repeat the plan to replace the coal-fired plants closing in Poland in the next few years with newer versions of the same thing. Of course, a pulverized coal plant meeting EU requirements on emissions has a levelized cost of production higher than onshore wind mills. See U.S. Energy Information Agency "Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Technologies,in the Annual Energy Outlook 2015. By the time all of these coal-induced dreams could actually be built, solar PV will also likely be near the same cost as well.
Where will the next 100 billion Euro to modernize energy come from? Not the national budget. Not the European Union that is on the path for decarbonization. Not the net revenue of the state-owned power companies which is far too small for the task. Not even their debt capacity in a world where more and more major lenders have opted out of coal. And last and least likely, not from foreign capital.
These are brutal facts that no one in Poland can change. The only discussion should be on how to transition to "next thing" and not how to fight an expensive and futile rearguard action against every trend in energy in Europe. Coal-fired plants will, of course, be around a long time in Poland. But they will decline in significance every year until they disappear altogether. No politician in Poland is willing to have an honest discussion based on the facts.
Finally Law and Justice does not like large wind farms. I am not a huge fan either and I prefer distributed energy (for which new opportunities in Poland loom large) ....but to meet 2020 targets Poland needs about 4000 MW of wind energy. Breaking this wind number down into "friendly," small neighbor and backyard windmills as PiS hopes to do is economically and technically impossible. Where will PiS find its renewable energy?
Another election will pass in Poland with no serious discussion of the future of energy in this country. Locked into empty slogans, bankrupt coal mines, aging coal-fired power plants, economic ignorance and lost causes, Poland seems to be waiting for some hard lesson in life to bring everyone back to reality.