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Deputy Minister of RES: “We are one of the leaders in Europe”. We check the data

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The deputy head of the Ministry of State Assets claims that Poland is “one of the leaders in Europe” when it comes to replacing conventional power in the energy sector with new ones based on renewable energy sources. We checked the data.

On June 22, the Ministry of State Assets quoted on Twitter the statement of the deputy head of the ministry, Karol Rabenda: “We are one of the leaders in Europe when it comes to replacing conventional power with new ones based on #RES. We have over 13 GW of installed photovoltaic capacity. The largest investments in offshore energy are ahead of us wind farm”.

Deputy Minister Karol Rabenda: We are one of the leaders in Europe when it comes to replacing conventional capacities with new ones based on RESTwitter

On June 22, Deputy Minister Karol Rabenda took part in the 3rd Maritime Forum of Radio Gdańsk. He argued that there are already “quite a lot” of renewable energy sources (RES) in Poland. “In principle, when it comes to decarbonisation, most of it takes place in Poland. Of course, we have something to decarbonise” – noted the deputy minister. “When it comes to replacing these conventional capacities with new capacities based on renewable energy sources, I think that we are one of the leaders in Europe” – he added.

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Speaking of 13 gigawatts of installed photovoltaic power, he estimated that although these sources have limited efficiency, it is a lot – especially in sunny weather. “The challenge is definitely the network and [jej] expansion” – noted Rabenda. He further mentioned the eight gigawatts of installed capacity of onshore wind energy and the prospects for the development of offshore, i.e. offshore wind energy.

Is the deputy minister’s belief that “we are one of the leaders in Europe” in replacing conventional power with new RES-based power backed up by the data? We checked.

Poland’s fifth and third place in the RES ranking

Karol Rabenda referred to the data on the installed capacity of power plants based on conventional and renewable energy sources. This term is understood as the total power of the installation, i.e. the efficiency in generating energy. Such data, on an annual basis and broken down by different countries of the world, is published by the think tank Ember. In 2022, Poland had 21.3 GW of installed capacity in power plants based on renewable energy sources. Compared to 2015 (6.9 GW), this is an increase of 14.3 GW, which is fifth among the countries of the European Union.

The largest increase in installed RES capacity between 2015 was recorded in Germany (50.5 GW), the Netherlands (27.1 GW) and France (22.4 GW). The smallest increase in capacity was installed in power plants in Slovakia (0.02 GW), Latvia (0.18 GW) and Luxembourg (0.34). However, the potential of power plants in Romania and Malta has decreased.

As for the percentage increase, it was recorded in Poland third highest score among EU countries (207%). The largest percentage increase was recorded in the Netherlands (471%) and Hungary (266%). The smallest increases in percentage terms were recorded in Slovakia, Latvia and the Czech Republic.

Poland last in the ranking of moving away from coal

We also checked the data on installed capacity in coal, gas and other fossil fuels. Most European Union countries recorded decreases here between 2015 and 2022. The most capacity in power plants based on traditional energy sources was lost in Germany (-9.4 GW), Spain (-7.8 GW) and Romania (-3.46 GW). In Poland, however, the installed capacity increased by 2.9 GW and it was the largest increase among the European Union countries. There were also increases in Croatia (0.2 GW) and Hungary (0.1 GW).

In terms of percentage, the largest decreases were recorded in Luxembourg (-90%), Denmark (-40%) and Malta (-35.6%). The largest increase was in Croatia (13.1%), Poland (9.6%) and Hungary (1.2%).

Karol Rabenda talked about decarbonization, so we checked the data for coal power plants alone. According to Ember data, Poland was the only country where an increase in installed capacity was recorded between 2015 and 2022 (by 0.01 GW). The largest decreases were recorded in Germany (-12.5 GW), Spain (-7.7 GW) and Romania (-3.5 GW).

What does it look like in percentage terms? From 2015 to 2022, coal-fired power plants were shut down in Portugal, Austria, Belgium and Sweden (a decrease of 100%). Further, the largest decreases in installed capacity were recorded in Spain (-67.7%), Denmark (-57%) and Romania (-57%).

Poland is the European leader in power increase in photovoltaics

“It is good that in our government there is a narrative about replacing conventional power with renewable energy sources” – comments Dr. Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, director of the Power Engineering Program at Forum Energii. Doctor Gawlikowska-Fyk draws attention to Poland’s high position in the rankings when it comes to photovoltaics. According to Ember data, in 2015 this sector had only 0.1 GW of installed capacity. In 2022 – 11.17 GW. This gives Poland the fourth position – after Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, and the first position in terms of percentage (10,000%), if we omit the countries that in 2015 did not show photovoltaics as an energy source at all.

“Poland is one of the leaders in the growth of photovoltaic power in Europe” – notes Daniel Czyżewski, deputy editor-in-chief of Energetyka24.com. He points out that in 2018 Poland developed almost from scratch in this matter. “Over the last five years, we have installed about 96 percent of all photovoltaic capacity,” Czyżewski writes in an e-mail.

Expert: “Renewable energy has not so much replaced coal, from which we produce roughly the same amount, but it has satisfied the growing demand”

Daniel Czyżewski estimates that the production of electricity from coal has changed little over the last decade. In 2013, we produced 139.7 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from coal, in 2018 – 133 TWh and in 2022 – 126.3 TWh. If we go back two decades to 2002, the production level will be similar – 135 TWh. Czyżewski notes, however, that at the same time the share of RES in the energy mix is ​​growing. In 2020, we achieved the EU target of 15%. energy produced from renewable sources, and in 2022 even 20 percent. “Renewable energy has not so much replaced coal, from which we produce more or less the same amount, but it has satisfied the growing demand for energy in Poland” – comments Daniel Czyżewski. He notes that the percentage of production from hard coal and lignite does not change significantly and has fluctuated around 70% for years. “It is true that a decade ago it was 80 percent, and even earlier it was closer to 90 percent, but this is poor consolation” – said Czyżewski.

“We are catching up with our backwardness in the development of renewable power. But the development of RES is delayed and uneven” – notes Dr. Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk. He adds that due to location limitations, the onshore wind energy industry was at a standstill for many years. “The increase in installed capacity in this technology until 2022 resulted mainly from the implementation of investments concluded at RES auctions in previous years” – adds Gawlikowska-Fyk. “The Polish power mix is ​​changing slowly and still most of the power comes from coal sources” – the expert concludes. Daniel Czyżewski emphasizes the problem of the maladjustment of Polish transmission networks. “Currently, we have 23.4 GW of installed capacity in renewable sources, and last year projects with a total capacity of 50 GW were refused connection to the grid” – he notes. Czyżewski estimates that with the intensive modernization of transmission networks two decades ago, perhaps today we would have 100 GW of installed capacity in RES and more than half of the electricity generated from these sources. “This would mean huge savings on the purchase of CO2 emission allowances” – writes Czyżewski.

Author:Krzysztof Jablonowski

Main photo source: zhengzaishuru/Shutterstock, Twitter

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