Green light for green energy

Luc Williams

The following people took part in the discussion “Polish energy: ambitious and safe” during the European Economic Congress: Marzena Czarnecka, Minister of Industry, Rafał Gawin, President of the Energy Regulatory Office, Dariusz Marzec, President of the Polish Energy Group, Grzegorz Onichimowski, President of Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne, Grzegorz Lot, president of Tauron Polska Energia, Grzegorz Kinelski, president of Enea, Andrzej Modzelewski, president of E.ON Polska, Marcin Okoński, partner of AT Kearney and a representative of large energy consumers – Sanjay Samaddar, president of ArcelorMittal Poland.

In the introductory presentation, Marcin Okoński presented the main theses of the report “Green Horizons: Poland on the path to a sustainable future”. He emphasized, among other things, that the need for energy transformation results not only from the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and guarantee energy independence and security, but also from the fact that the life of coal-fired power plants is coming to an end. According to Kearney experts, the Polish government should take on the role of leader of the transformation process. This requires the development of a new nationwide strategy, including the definition of clear goals and action plans that take into account both environmental and social issues.

PGE President Dariusz Marzec noted that the process of transforming the energy system is spread over decades, so the sector expects a “consistent, stable and one-way policy in this area.” In the future, the basis of the system will be large-scale nuclear power plants, wind and photovoltaic farms and other renewable sources, but until then, Poland must be provided with safe and stable energy supplies – at prices affordable to all citizens and ensuring the competitiveness of the Polish economy.

– During the transition period, conventional sources, in our case based on brown coal, will remain the foundation for the stability and security of the system. These assets are crucial, and at the same time everyone is already aware that they are unsustainable on market principles. That is why we are glad that the decision has been made to launch the process of their takeover by the government, said Dariusz Marzec.

He added that numerous elements of a complex and complicated system must work together, and the government has the tools to coordinate activities.

According to the president of PGE, the process of changing the ownership of coal assets, which are already operationally separated from the structures of energy companies, should start this year and be completed next year. As the companies' representatives emphasized, thanks to this change, each of them will gain access to favorable financing for investments in green energy production capacity. And these are necessary both for the survival of companies and for the entire economy: by the middle of the century, all consumers will buy only green energy and we will either produce it ourselves or we will have to import it. In the latter case, we would be at risk of outflow of investments.

Marzena Czarnecka confirmed that the State Treasury is interested in taking over coal assets from energy companies.

– These assets are already separated, now they must change ownership, otherwise energy companies will have much more expensive financing and will not be competitive – admitted the minister.

She emphasized that the separated conventional assets will have an important role to play in the transition period, i.e. the construction of alternative sources of stable energy supplies.

Dariusz Marzec emphasized that PGE's strategic goal is currently to modernize the distribution network.

– Last year we allocated funds for investments in this area, including: to improve capacity, reliability, flexibility and cabling of overhead networks, PLN 4 billion. Most investments result from the dynamically changing needs and behavior of customers, emphasized the president of PGE.

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