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Polish coalition to spur renewables, liberalise markets

  • Market: Electricity
  • 24/10/23

The coalition that won a majority in Poland's general election last week has indicated its energy policy would include a more ambitious shift to renewables and liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets.

"We want renewables to be a key part of the Polish electricity mix," Civic Coalition (KO) party deputy Tomasz Nowak told Argus. KO is the largest of the three parties that plan to form a government and take power from the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has ruled Poland for eight years but lost its majority in the 15 October elections.

Nowak was deputy chairman of the climate and energy commission in the previous parliament and retained his deputy seat in last week's elections. He is a close ally of former European Council president Donald Tusk, the coalition leader tipped to become Poland's new prime minister. Nowak told Argus that the coalition's energy policy would represent a major change from PiS, although some policies — including gas infrastructure and nuclear energy plans — would continue.

PiS pursued a policy of strengthening state-owned companies' role in the country's energy sector, championing last year's merger of Poland's dominant oil and gas suppliers Orlen, Lotos and PGNiG into one state-controlled company, the Orlen group. The majority coalition said it would pull out from this policy, with Nowak describing Orlen as a "grotesque" entity. For two months before Poland's election, opposition parties criticised Orlen for helping the incumbent government by lowering fuel prices against the international market trend.

PiS has also pursued ambitious gas infrastructure diversification plans, such as building the 10bn m³/yr Baltic Pipe — which allows Poland to import gas directly from Norway — and building a two-vessel LNG terminal in Gdansk. The coalition said it will continue with these supply diversification plans, including the Gdansk LNG project. Investments in gas will be conducted "on a rational scale" so as not to divert the country from a shift to renewables, Nowak said. Coalition parties also declared their intention to continue PiS' plans to invest in nuclear energy.

But the PiS government also introduced controversial gas storage laws that consolidated the position of Orlen.

"We will surely liberalise the [gas] market," Nowak told Argus.

Renewables shift and end of Nabe plan

The winning parties indicated during the election campaign that they would change restrictive policies for onshore wind farm locations, as well as make it easier for renewable plants to connect to the electricity grid.

The new coalition plans to pursue a gradual exit from coal and lignite while securing energy transition funds to support the areas dependent on these fossil fuels. In their election campaign, the coalition parties criticised the government for its non-transparent use of revenue from sales of EU emissions trading system allowances, saying they should only be directed to energy transition measures.

The coalition is unlikely to pursue the outgoing government's coal spin-off plan and creation of a 100pc state entity, Nabe. "We have lots of doubts about Nabe, we voted against it," Nowak told Argus.

Nabe has been a key plan for the outgoing government to free Polish state-owned utilities from coal assets and help them raise money to invest in renewables.

Polish president Andrzej Duda, a former PiS member, plans to hold consultations with all parties this week on the creation of the new government.


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