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Poland’s plan to cut coal comes with $81 billion price tag -minister

Poland’s goal to reduce coal to 50 percent of its energy mix by 2050 would require investments of 70 billion euros ($81 billion), its energy minister told Reuters.

Poland generates most of its electricity from coal, mostly in outdated power plants, many of which need to be shut down in the coming years, raising risks over its security of supply.

“In 2050 we want to have only 50 percent of coal-based energy. This requires investment of up to 70 billion euros,” Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski told Reuters in an interview in Copenhagen.

Coal accounts for around 80 percent of electricity production in Poland and its aim is to boost the share of renewables to 15 percent in 2020 from 12 percent now.

Poland has around 6.4 gigawatt of installed onshore wind capacity, but the government is looking to harness the wind off its Baltic Sea coast.

“Definitely offshore wind will be an important part of the mix … We are making all efforts to make sure that the decision about the first offshore farm should be made before 2020,” he said.

The global cost of offshore wind energy has dropped 63 percent between 2011 and 2017.

The government, elected in 2015 partly on promises to sustain the coal industry, has changed direction this year and acknowledged the need to increase its low-emission energy capacity.

Polish lawmakers approved an amendment to the renewable sources of energy law in June meant to remove obstacles to green energy investment and help Warsaw meet EU renewable energy targets.

“For us, hope is back in Poland,” said Kresten Ornbjerg, head of public affairs at Vestas, the world’s top wind turbine maker.

While renewables might play a bigger role in the future, gas will be the intermediate fuel in the transition away from coal, Tchorzewski said, during his visit to a Danish-Polish energy conference in Copenhagen.

In a bid to cut its reliance on gas deliveries from Russia after 2022, it is looking to build a gas pipeline linking Poland with Norwegian gas deposits via the Baltic Sea and Denmark.

The final investment decision for the project would be made this fall, said Denmark’s energy minister Lars Chr. Lilleholt.

Poland hosts the United Nations climate talks in December, when around 200 governments’ environment ministers will meet to agree rules for the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by David Evans)

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