At first glance, Poland’s renewable energy sector appears to be doing quite well, and the government’s target of producing 10.4 per cent of the country’s final energy consumption from renewable energy by 2012 has already been exceeded.
But a closer look shows that this growth in green energy has largely been achieved using methods that are cheap and easy, but hardly sustainable.
Poland is the largest hard coal producer in the European Union and, together with brown coal, the dirty fossil fuel powers the production of more than 90 per cent of the country’s electricity.
That means guaranteed high carbon emissions.
The cheapest way to reduce those is a process known as co-firing. More than half of Polish green electricity is produced by throwing biomass, often simply wood and straw, into the boilers of the country’s coal-fired power plants. Co-firing biomass with coal in Polish power plants has more than tripled in the last five years.
Ironically, for one of the EU’s larger farming countries, Poland has already exhausted its own sources of biomass and increasingly imports it… Read more