October 2, 2018 / 5:49 PM / 2 months ago

Poland's power from coal seen down at 50 percent by 2040 - government official

LONDON (Reuters) - Half of Poland’s electricity generation will come from coal by 2040 though coal production should remain at current levels as energy demand is expected to increase, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, is pictured near Belchatow, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

Poland and Germany are jointly responsible for over half of the EU’s carbon dioxide emissions from coal.

Currently, around 80 percent of Poland’s power production is provided by coal-fired plant generation. It aims to cut that to half by 2040, with renewables and nuclear providing much of the rest and gas-fired generation providing back-up.

Earlier this year, Poland said it planned to lower the share of coal in its energy production to 60 percent in 2030 and around 50 percent in 2050.

“We would like to keep the level of hard coal production at the level it is today. Some mines will be decommissioned but demand for energy will grow. All transition in the sector will be in cooperation with the European Commission,” Piotr Naimski, who is responsible for strategic energy infrastructure, told Reuters at the Bloomberg NEF future of energy summit.

Under a long-term plan to restructure the coal industry, some of the oldest and most polluting coal-fired power units could be decommissioned and replaced with bigger, cleaner and more efficient units, he said.

Poland is considering whether to open new fields of lignite - an intermediate between bituminous coal and peat - alongside new coal-fired power units which would take around 10 years or build a nuclear plant which would cost and take around the same.

“We are considering which way to go. Existing lignite fields should last until the early 2030s,” Naimski said.

‘CLEANER’ OPTIONS

Poland will host this year’s U.N. climate talks in the mining city of Katowice, where the implementation of a global pact to keep global warming in check will be worked out.

The pact, called the Paris Agreement, was agreed in 2015 and seeks to wean the world economy off fossil fuels in the second half of the century. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact last year, saying it favored other countries.

Research by Climate Analytics earlier this year said the European Union as a whole must shelve plans for additional coal capacity and shut down plants completely by 2030 to keep its carbon emissions in check.

But Poland also has plans for renewable energy. It wants to have 8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installed in the long-term. It already has 6 GW of onshore wind.

At the same time, it is trying to reduce its reliance on Russian gas through the Baltic Pipe Project - a 10 billion cubic meter per year pipeline which will supply natural gas from Norway to the Danish and Polish markets.

Construction of the pipeline is due to start in 2020 and gas supply should start in 2022 when Poland’s gas contracts with Russia’s Gazprom are scheduled to end.

Poland also plans to expand its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal by 2021 and expand its transmission grid.

“We will get better security of supply and diversification of gas sources and routes. We get 100 percent of our gas from Russia now so we are looking for LNG and gas from the Norwegian shelf,” Naimski said.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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