Poland is well known for its love affair with coal – and not just any coal but the brown version; the most polluting of fossil fuels. 95% of electricity and 80% of energy for heating in Poland is derived from coal.
However, that is rapidly changing as the EU, of which Poland is member, has decreed that 15% of energy production must be from renewable sources by 2020. While Poland’s conditions aren’t ideal for solar farms, it does have excellent wind power resources. Around 30% of Poland is suitable for wind turbines, and 5% is "very favourable", mainly around the "Baltic wind corridor," which includes parts of Poland’s northern coast.
According to Business New Europe, Poland’s wind power capacity increased from 276 MW to 472 MW during 2008, which is a quarter of a one percent of its total energy consumption. The Polish government’s plans aim for wind generation to contribute a 2.3% share in domestic energy consumption by 2010. Under a scheme to stimulate development of wind farms, renewable energy investors will be offered long-term preferential loans to cover up to 75% of project costs, up from 20-30%.
At present, approximately 200 MW of new wind farm capacity is being built in Poland, with grid connection agreements for an additional 4,000 MW.
While Poland’s use of brown coal has drawn the ire of many environmentalists over the years, closer to home there’s a similar story in Victoria where 95% of the state’s electricity is sourced from the combustion of brown coal. Victoria recently saw a 5.6 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 851,000 tonnes – directly related to electricity generation.