Green strategic autonomy

REPORT: Green strategic autonomy. Polish investment needs for independence from Russian imports of raw materials

Authors: Krzysztof Bocian, Kamil Laskowski i Wojciech Lewandowski

Europe’s raw material resources are not sufficiently abundant for it to be unequivocally stated that Europe is independent in terms of raw materials and therefore energy. On the contrary, limited extraction deposits and the need for fossil fuels from the rest of the world means that dependence on imports is steadily increasing and has increased since the early 1990s from 50% to 58% today.

The high sensitivity to raw material importability is particularly evident in situations of external supply shortages. This is the situation we are currently facing, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the imposition of sanctions on Russia by the European Union and raw material blackmail by Russia causing anxiety and uncertainty and placing the European energy market in crisis. Interrupted supplies, particularly of natural gas, mean that in those countries that depend on Russian gas and do not replenish their stocks sufficiently during the summer, reserves of this commodity may be depleted at the height of the heating season, and some sectors of the economy, especially selected industries, will also be affected by its shortage. Russia is using the supply of raw materials to Europe as a bargaining chip in the face of the war in Ukraine, triggering the need for a Community-wide and national response to the crisis.

This means that the countries of Europe, including Poland, must make every effort to ensure that there is no shortage of energy and raw materials needed by the economy and industry, as well as by households, in the coming autumn and winter. Preparing contingency plans, filling up gas storage facilities, replacing Russian resources with supplies from other parts of the world, and protecting the public against energy price rises are just some of the measures needed to overcome the impending energy crisis. It is also a good time to revise decarbonisation plans and, more specifically, to accelerate the timing of their implementation, i.e. to accelerate the development of zero-carbon energy sources, so that Europe can become energy-independent and produce energy cheaply without external shocks affecting its own market. The public and the economy are increasingly aware of the relevance and seriousness of the situation in the area of both energy security and climate. In order to achieve the set climate goals of zero-carbon by 2050, it is imperative to increase investments in decarbonisation, zero-carbon and energy efficiency in the current decade.

REPORT: Green strategic autonomy. Policy to support the development of a sustainable energy system

Authors: Krzysztof Kobyłka, Marianna Sobkiewicz, Wojciech Lewandowski

The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted a reorientation of energy policy in EU countries, including Poland. Like most Member States, Poland has diversified its fossil fuel suppliers in order to become independent from Russian import. However, unlike many other EU countries, the Polish government has not taken measures to promote energy conservation through policy (such as lowering temperatures in public buildings). Furthermore, Poland has one of the lowest shares of RES in final energy consumption and is not taking adequate measures to make up for its delay. While many Member States have taken measures to accelerate the development of renewables as a result of the Russian invasion, Poland still has not liberalised the 10H rule, which is currently the largest barrier to RES development in the country.

Poland is one of the slowest decarbonising countries and has one of the most carbon-intensive economies (in relation to GDP). It also ranks second in the EU in terms of the emissions intensity of electricity generation, producing around 70% of its electricity from coal-fired plants. Therefore, conventional generation units must be replaced, but also additional sources need to be built to meet the increasing demand for electricity.

Countries face the challenge of building a stable, resilient system that responds to the characteristics of renewable sources, while ensuring that the transition is economic and equitable. The evolution of the system should be based on three pillars: ensuring adequate energy supply, system flexibility, and decentralisation.

Poland lacks a clear political signal for committing to the green transition. An ambitious strategy, but with an appropriate system for monitoring & evaluating the progress of its implementation, could make for a significant improvement. Updating key strategic documents, such as the Polish Energy Policy 2040 (PEP2040) and the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021- 2030 (NECP), should reflect an ambitious but realistic decarbonisation pathway for the electricity sector, with outlined supporting and monitoring policies and measures.

It is essential that energy transition policies take into account the protection of vulnerable groups from the negative impacts of air pollution, climate change, as well as the transition support initiatives themselves. These measures should include redistribution to minimise their negative impact on the lowest income households.

10 Principles of Green Strategic Autonomy for Poland and the EU

Authors: Krzysztof Kobyłka, Marianna Sobkiewicz, Wojciech Lewandowski

Since the dawn of time, the development of civilisation and economy has been linked to the availability of energy sources and the efficiency of their use. Undisturbed, stable, and predictable access to energy has long formed the foundation of economic development. However, the way in which energy is obtained will undergo significant changes over the coming years, involving a shift away from fossil fuels and the decarbonisation of the energy sector in order to halt the rise in global average temperature and, consequently, slow down climate change.

Achieving climate neutrality will not be possible without an ambitious and dynamic transformation of the electricity sector. In the EU this sector accounts for about one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions. All net-zero scenarios for the year 2050 predict an increase in electricity use, so the decarbonisation of this sector has become the central focus of the current phase of the EU’s climate transition.