Poland foresees the massive expansion of fossil gas use. Despite the fact that fossil gas has no future in Europe, Poland aims to become a blueprint for fossil fuel dependency and fund its gas addiction that will lock the country in emissions for decades from the EU wallet.
In a nutshell:
- Burning fossil gas will keep worsening the climate crisis
- Investing in fossil gas today may lock-in the use of gas for over 30 years
- Poland may expand its fossil gas addiction by 40TWh up to 2030, more than from renewables
Rather unusual for a country that lacks significant fossil gas resources, Poland plans the biggest expansion of fossil gas use in the entire EU, from 14 TWh (in 2019) to 54 TWh (in 2030). This would make it the EU’s third largest gas-generating country by 2030, according to the Polish Energy Policy 2040. This strategy was issued shortly before the planning of EU funds spending plans began and serves as the strategic guidance for EU funds.
The strategy outlines that biomethane and hydrogen would use 10% of all gas infrastructure capacity. However, there are no further details about corresponding decarbonisation requirements for new projects. Considering Poland’s “not so good track record” with fossil fuel phase-out and the delays in needed investments, there is the concrete risk that Poland might lock-in gas dependency beyond 2050, thereby failing to achieve the EU’s net-zero target.
Consequently, in the Polish Recovery Plan fossil gas support is materializing into proposals for EU financing, potentially with up to €4 billion.
One of the biggest recipients of EU funds support would be the “Clean Air” program (€3.2 billion), which helps Polish homeowners to modernize their houses and heating systems. There is the potential risk that part of these investments might lock-in fossil gas heating which would become an important argument for expansion of the national gas grid.
Another big Recovery cluster is the support for hydrogen technologies (€0.8 billion). In order to be truly sustainable, hydrogen needs to be generated from renewable electricity. However, the level of renewable energy production in Poland is rather low (15% of the current energy mix) and it is not planned to expand beyond 25% by 2030, according to the National Energy and Climate Action plan. Moreover, the level of support proposed for renewables in the Recovery and Resiliency Plans is not enough to achieve the targeted level of renewable based hydrogen generation. Thus, there is real risk that the hydrogen hype might be based on fossil gas.