Poland - Country Commercial Guide
Energy Sector

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-10-11

Poland’s primary energy production achieved 2650 PJ in 2018 and relied heavily on coal and fossil fuels.  Hard coal, accounted for 57.9% of primary energy production in 2018, followed by lignite (18.1 %), natural gas (5.5 %), crude oil (1.6%) and renewables (16.9 %).  The consumption of primary energy sources was 4500 PJ in 2018, with hard coal and lignite sharing of 50% of all consumption.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Power Generation

 

2018

2019

Gross Generation (TWh)

165.2

158.7

Thermal (hard coal & lignite)

79.6%

75%

Thermal (gas)

  5.8%

  7.6%

Hydro

  1.3%

  1.4%

Renewable

  7.2%

  9%

Industrial power plants

  6.1%

  7%

Source:  Polish Power Grid Company PSE

The installed capacity of the Polish electric power system achieved 46,799 MW in 2019, which was almost 2% more in comparison to 2018 (45,939 MW).  The share of installed capacity in hard coal and lignite remained at the level of 67% (31,541 MW).  Renewable Energy Sources (RES) accounted for over 20% (7,490 MW) and constituted a 12.8% grow in comparison with 2018. The installed capacity in natural gas had a 5.7% share in total installed capacity (2,788 MW) and witnessed a 19% grow comparing to 2018.

Electricity production achieved 158.7 TWh in 2019, and it was 3.9% less than in 2018.  The hard coal and lignite power plant production of 119.7 TWh accounted for 75% of total electricity production in 2019, while in 2018 it was 79.5% (4.5% percentage point decline).  The share of RES in electricity production was 9.03% (14.3 TWh), while natural gas power plant production accounted for 7.6% (12 TWh).  In 2019, domestic electricity production was the lowest in five years, which resulted from substantial decline in coal power plants production.  High prices of coal and carbon credits made electricity production out of coal uncompetitive.  At the same time, electricity production based on natural gas and RES increased significantly.  The capacity installed in renewable sources and production of electric power from RES have been growing consistently during the last several years, exceeding 14 TWh in 2019.  This is still insufficient for Poland to meet the EU’s 2020 obligation of 20% share of renewable energy in the final energy mix.  Major reasons for this growth was a 3.5x increase in the capacity of photovoltaic installations and development of prosumer PV installations.

The importance of gas in the Polish energy mix continues to grow.  Domestic production of this fuel has been decreasing for several years with overall demand being replaced by imported gas.  However, the progressive diversification of gas sources is clearly visible, mainly due to contracts for the purchase of liquefied natural gas (LNG), mainly from Qatar and the United States. Imports from Russia account for less than 50% of domestic gas supplies.  The decreasing trend in domestic hard coal exploitation, which has been visible for several years, continued in 2019 accounting for 2 million less tons.  However, the demand for thermal coal remains high.  Domestic coal is more expensive and of lower quality than imported coal, resulting in almost 20% of Poland’s consumption covered by imported coal.  Hard coal has been imported mainly from Russia (10 million tons in 2019), Colombia, the United States and Kazakhstan.

Most Polish coal-fired power plants were built between 1960 and 1980, and now must be retired and replaced by newly-build capacity.  Two new large coal-fired power plants – Kozienice (1,000 MW) and Opole (2x900 MW)- have already been operational, and there are others, including Jaworzno (910 MW) and Turow (450 MW) that are under construction.  The subsequent power plant investments will be done in natural gas sources – Dolna Odra (2 x 900 MW) and Ostroleka power plants (1000 MW).

Civil Nuclear Energy

In 2009, Poland began developing the civil nuclear power program.  Initially, the state-owned power company PGE envisioned construction of two nuclear power plants of 3,000 MW by 2035.  The program has been delayed significantly and has been the subject of reform from the government.  Construction of six nuclear power blocks of 6-9 GW total capacity by 2043 is now being considered.  The Ministry of Climate plans to launch operation of the first 1-1.5GW nuclear power reactor in 2033, with the remaining five 1-1.5 GW reactors coming on-line every two years following construction of the first one and fully complete by 2043. The site characterization and environmental analysis have been performed by PGE at two selected sites in Zarnowiec and Lubiatowo-Kopalino and are planned to be completed at the end of 2021.  The reactor technology tender is still to be announced.   The Ministry estimates the cost of the nuclear power program at $15 - $20 billion and is looking for foreign technology provider to offer 50% of project financing. 

The Polish government also considers developing the High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) technology in Poland.  The plan is to create the special HTGR development center in cooperation with foreign partners who have experience with this technology.  The first step would be building a 10 MWt HTGR reactor in the National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ facility for testing and licensing purposes, then developing commercial HTGR reactors that would provide heat for the chemical industry, and electric energy for the grid in Poland.

Renewable energy

In 2008 all the EU member states agreed to reach at least 15% share of renewable energy, RE in the final energy balance in by 2020. Poland’s share at that time had not exceeded 8% and after 12 years the country will not be able to achieve the set goal. By the end of 2019 only 11.4% of energy was produced from the renewable energy sources, RES. The total installed capacity of renewable sources amounted to 9,106 MW in 2019 and it grew by 512 MW over the year. Sixty five percent of this capacity was installed in wind power, followed by biomass, hydro, photovoltaics and biogas. Photovoltaics had the largest share in 2019 growth reaching 331 MW and over 64% of the entire RE capacity increase. The second place was taken by biomass with 130 MW capacity. RE capacity growth over 2019 was nine times higher than in 2018.  Renewable energy laws from April 2015 strongly supports prosumer activities. Individual producers of maximum 10kW power from the newly installed RES system are guaranteed tariffs for 15 years. For bigger producers below 1MW and above 1MW, the law introduced an auction system. Each year, the Ministry of Economy announces how much of renewable energy from each group it will need and announce the reference prices for each group. According to the assumptions of the National Plan for Energy and Climate for 2021-2030, the share of energy from renewable sources in the national mix is to increase evenly from 17.6 percent in 2025 to 21 percent in 2030.

As reported by Bloomberg Poland, the Europe’s coal heartland is now the hottest market for green power. Poland plans to increase its renewable power capacity by 65% from 2019 to 2024, mostly from offshore wind farms. The country finalizes its 2040 energy policy looking forward that some of the world’s biggest players in RE will be seeking to capture a share of this market.

Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics (PV) is one of the fastest growing segments of the renewable energy sector in Poland. As of March 1, 2020, the capacity of photovoltaic installations in Poland was 1596.5 MW, representing an increase of 183.2 percent year-on-year. Further, in the first quarter of 2020, PVs recorded and an 8.4 percent increase.  In 2019, Poland ranked fourth within the EU in terms of annual increases in new solar power. Last year’s success was the result of three major events; a significant decrease in world prices for PV system modules and elements as well as, extensive Polish government programs supporting small investors (I.e., Thermo-modernization and My Electricity programs) and, RES auctions for large investors.

Representatives of the energy industry agree that the rapid development of photovoltaics, especially in terms of prosumer, cannot be stopped. A significant element of PV micro installations, (more than 60% of capacity), are systems implemented by individual prosumers. This trend has been driven by the growing energy prices arising since 2012, resulting in numerous small installation companies being established to respond to growing demand. Market experts predict that within next 10 years, Poles will install nearly 1 million individual PV roofs (each roof installation will be of 50-100kW capacity). Large PV investors are supported by the government via RES auctions, which have been organized each year since 2016 by the Polish Energy System Regulator. This has resulted in more than 1000 projects with a total capacity of over 1.6GW that will be eligible for government premium payments over 15 years. By the end of 2019, over 400 projects became operational. For 2020, the planned capacity for PV installations will be 1000 MW.

Wind: onshore and offshore

Poland’s wind generation capacity development was restricted in 2016, when President Duda signed a bill making it illegal to build turbines within 2km of other buildings or forests, ruling out 99 % of Poland’s land area. Due to these changes, the installed capacity in wind generation grew only by 0.8%. Since then, the government has made plans to revise parts of the bill that hindered wind energy development and created a number of investment disputes between Poland and international investors.

There are over 1,200 installations in Poland using wind as a renewable energy source. Their installed capacity is over 5,900 MW, which is about 65% of installed capacity in all types of renewable energy installations working in Poland. Nearly 160 further wind installations are under construction, with total installed capacity of approximately 2,500 MW. For comparison, the capacity installed in the entire power system in Poland in 2019 amounted to almost 47,000 MW. The amount of energy produced from wind sources and introduced into the Polish power system is systematically increasing. In 2019, they produced 13,903 GWh of energy against 11,678 GWh in 2018, year-to-year dynamics was 119%. Wind energy accounted for about 8.2% energy consumed in the country in 2019. According to the Polish Energy Regulatory Office mainly producers of wind and solar energy are the beneficiaries of the auction support system for renewable energy production operating in Poland for over five years. The results of the auctions decided so far by the Energy Regulatory Office (in 2016-2019) should translate into the creation of approx. 3.4 GW of new wind energy capacities. And the increase in energy production from the auction system is an important mechanism to fulfill the renewable energy target assumed for Poland.

To catch up with the 15% in 2020 and 21% in 2030 of RES obligations the Polish government plans an extensive development program of offshore wind farms. The Polish Energy Policy, PEP, Road Map 2040 provides for a visible participation of offshore wind in the Polish energy mix in 2027. This means that the first mature projects should appear even around 2024. In the prospectus for 2040, the strategic document sets the potential of 10.3 GW. A draft law on the promotion of electricity generation in offshore wind farms published in January this year provides for the first auctions to be conducted by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office in this sector as early as 2023. Companies controlled by the Polish State Treasury will have a dominant share in the development of offshore wind farms. Investments in offshore wind farms are carried out by companies such as the Polish Energy Group, PGE.  By 2030, PGE and their Danish partner, Ørsted intend to erect wind farms with 2.5 GW on the Baltic Sea. Another state group, PKN Orlen, also has concessions for the construction of a 1.2 GW offshore wind farm and is in the process of searching for a business partner to carry out the planned projects.  PEP 2040 predicts that 55.2 TWh of energy will be produced from wind only. The Polish Wind Energy Association (PSEW) estimates that the Polish energy system will require 1,000MW of newly installed wind energy capacity each year to comply with EU targets.

Transmission and Distribution Network

Poland’s electrical transmission network is in good technical shape and the average age of Polish transmission lines is less than 40 years.  Expanding and upgrading of Poland’s electricity transmission network is a key element to meet its EU goals of increasing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and better integration into European transmission networks.  In 2019, all six transmission and distribution companies spent over $2 billion for investments, including $34 million for innovations.  The Polish state-owned transmission system operator PSE spent $380 million for transmission grid development and modernization.  From 2019 to 2027, PSE plans to spend $3.2 billion to expand and modernize the Polish grid, with $1.25 billion support taken from the EU Operational Program Infrastructure and Environment.  PSE plans to introduce 8 GW of power from offshore wind farms into the system by 2027 and to prepare for construction of power lines for the nuclear power plant.  PSE investment plans include building of about 4,300 km of new 400 kV lines and upgrade another 800 km of 400 kV, along with 1,400 km of new or upgraded 220 kV lines; construction of nine new transformer stations and modernization of 23 existing stations.  PSE has signed an agreement with Lithuanian transmission operator, Litgrid, to build Harmony Link, an undersea HVDC cable that would link Poland and Latvia and make Baltic states power system synchronized with European.

Investments undertaken by five distribution system operators for distribution grid expansion, upgrade, automation and cyber security are also substantial. In 2019, the total investment spending by five Polish distribution companies amounted to $ 1.6 billion, including $0.55 billion spent by PGE, $0.45 billion spent by Tauron, $0.3 billion spent by Energa, $0.3 billion by Enea and $50 million by Innogy.  Thirty investment projects related to electricity transmission, and 188 projects in electric energy distribution with a combined value of $ 3.6 billion, have been co-financed by EU cohesion funds within the Infrastructure and Environment Program during 2014-2020. 

Smart Grid

According to the draft of Poland’s Energy Law, Poland plans to install smart meters at 80% of end-users by 2026.  Currently, smart meters are installed at 11% of end-users. The initial phase of installing smart meters in Poland took place between 2011-2015, but the process has since slowed. The reason behind this slowdown was a lack of applicable legislation that would obligate Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to implement Advanced Metering Infrastructure, and lack of regulator actions enhancing such activities.  Introduction of capacity market in 2018 forced DSOs to install intelligent meters that enable remote data read-out.  Among the five DSOs, Energa is the most advanced in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) implementation with installation of meters for 30% of their clients.  Energa has invested $0.5 billion in smart grid development by 2020.  During next three years, Energa plans to introduce smart grid in their entire territory, which covers 25% of Poland’s area. The project worth $60 million is to modernize the low voltage grid using EU funds. Tauron has installed 350,000 intelligent meters in Wroclaw (Smart City Wroclaw), and Innogy 100,000 units in Warsaw.  PGE, the largest DSO, has been performing project of 50,000 meters in Bialystok and Lodz.  Enea signed contract for introducing intelligent grid in Szczecin and Swinoujscie in December 2019.  PGE, Tauron and Enea have together conducted several tenders for purchasing of smart meters.  

According to Poland’s calculations, the installation of smart meters for 80% of end-users by 2026 will cost $1.2 billion. The amount of $300 million from the EU Infrastructure and Environment funds can be spent by DSOs for grid infrastructure development, smart grid development, intelligent meters, grid automatization and energy storage systems construction. The high and medium voltage distribution lines are primarily automated while low voltage systems, which are most commonly found in Poland, still require automation updates. 

Energy Efficiency

According to Poland’s Energy Policy by 2040, energy efficiency is one of three major energy priorities. The document states that Poland is going to improve its energy efficiency by 23% in comparison with 2007.  A system of white certificates that award energy efficiency, investments, and expansion are an instrument for incentivizing energy efficiency in Poland.  This system is required for the consumer utilities selling electricity to the end-user market.  The system is available for all projects that meet specific criteria.  To receive a white certificate, a company needs to send an energy efficiency audit to the Office of Energy Regulation.  Energy efficiency audits are required for companies with more than 250 employees.   EU funds dedicated to improving energy efficiency have allowed the energy market in Poland to grow over the last decade; advancing the thermo-modernization of buildings, street lighting, and industrial processes.  The EU has allocated Euro 6.8 billion to support the low carbon economy in Poland.  This includes Euro 3.8 billion available from the European Regional Development Fund and Euro 3 billion from the Cohesion Fund, which includes the Environment and Infrastructure Program. The EU may also fund the production of electric energy, including co-generation, electricity transmission and distribution, including the smart grid; energy modernization of public buildings and housing; and increased energy efficiency in factories.  Other financing dedicated to such projects include: The National Fund for Environmental Protection, made up of subsidies and preferential credits; EBRD; and EU PolSEEF, which includes preferential credits.

LNG

Poland relies on Russia for its gas supply, as Russia’s Gazprom controls 56% of the country’s gas consumption. The rest is covered by domestic production (23%), EU imports (15%), and LNG imports (6%). Poland seeks to become energy secure, as well as diversify its gas sources before its contract with Gazprom expires in 2022.  As such, Poland is in the process of building gas infrastructure to become more energy independent and meet growing consumption.  Poland began this process with its first LNG terminal in Swinoujscie in 2015.  Since then, Poland has also increased its imports of LNG from Qatar and the United States.  

Poland’s LNG terminal in Swinoujscie is the first onshore regasification facility in the Baltic Sea region.  This facility receives shipments from a Qatari supplier under a long-term contract, as well as a series of auxiliary deliveries secured via the spot market.  In November 2017, PGNiG signed a five-year contract with Centrica LNG Co. This contract allows the deliveries of U.S. LNG from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Louisiana.  In 2018, PGNiG signed other long-term contracts for US LNG that include 20-years contracts with: Sempra for 2.7 BCM, Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC and Venture Global Plaquemines LNG LLC for together 2.7BCM and Cheniere Marketing International 1.95 BCM of degasified LNG yearly. Deliveries will start in 2022-2023. In 2018, the Polish government made the decision to increase the LNG terminal’s capacity by 50%, giving the terminal 7.5 BCM. The tender was announced in the beginning of 2019 and was recently concluded.

From 2023, PGNiG will have at least 7.45 million tons of liquefied gas, which is over 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Such quantities of LNG will strengthen the company’s position on the market for this fuel and will contribute to the increase of gas supply security of Poland.  PGNiG is currently also in the process of building a Baltic Pipeline to carry gas from Norway to Poland. This pipeline should be operational by 2022.  The European Commission recognizes the Baltic Pipeline Project as a ‘Project of Common Interest’ (PCI). The EU is providing support funding to the Baltic Pipeline because it strengthens the European internal energy market by securing more affordable, secure, and sustainable energy sources.  When completed, the Baltic Pipeline will account for 43% of Poland’s gas consumption. Poland expects to receive another 37% via the expanded LNG terminal; which will receive imports from a variety of sources, including the U.S.  In addition, the Polish government is strongly considering purchase of two Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRU); one in the Gdansk bay and another one next to Swinoujscie LNG terminal.  This investment will allow Poland to accept delivery of between 4.1 and 8.2 billion Nm3 of liquefied natural gas per year to Poland. In addition to transporting liquefied gas, the tanker would also enable reloading and bunkering (refueling) of LNG-powered vessels. 

Web Resources

Ministry of Energy (now Ministerstwo Aktywow Panstwowych)

Energy Regulatory Agency

Energy Market Agency 

Polish Committee of Electric Energy

Association of Polish Power Plants

Polish Association of Professional Combined Heat and Power Plants

Polish Power Transmission and Distribution Association

Chamber of Industrial Power Plants and Energy Suppliers

Polish Chamber of Power Industry and Environmental Protection

Association of Energy Trading

Polish Wind Energy Association

Polish Economic Chamber of Renewable and Distributed Energy

Polish Offshore Wind Energy Society

Polish PV Association

Chamber of the Natural Gas