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Transformation of the energy sector in Poland after accession to the EU

In 2004, as much as 94 per cent of electricity produced in Poland came from burning coal. Only 3 percent came from Renewable Energy Sources. In 2023, RES already accounted for 27 percent, while coal accounted for 59 percent. Without EU funds, it would be impossible to modernise and expand 1977 km of extra-high voltage lines (12.3 % of the total length of this type of network in Poland) and 1391 km of heating network.

Poland - country flag and electricity pylons - 3D illustration

Introduction

In 2004, Poland joined the European Union, which opened up new investment opportunities for the energy sector. Over the following years, a significant transformation took place, which affected the sources of electricity production and the natural environment. The Polish Economic Institute report “Two decades of modernization. The role of European Funds in Poland’s energy infrastructure” is a comprehensive review of the use of funds in the energy sector in Poland. This document analyses their impact on shaping the country’s sustainable and efficient energy sector.

Financial support from the EU

European Funds have played a key role in financing  investments in Poland’s energy sector. Between 2004 and 2024, Poland obtained more than PLN 55 billion from the EU for energy Transformation purposes. Thanks to these funds, it was possible not only to develop the infrastructure. It also provided support for projects that directly impacted society. This concerns thermal modernization of multi-family buildings or co-financing of micro-installations. These funds were directed to a variety of projects, including:

  • Thermal modernization and improvement of energy efficiency. In the years 2004-2024, a total of PLN 11.1 billion was allocated for thermal modernization of buildings. About 14,373 public buildings and multi-family buildings were thermomodernized. This represented 3.5 percent of the total number of such buildings in Poland. The leader is the Silesian Voivodeship. A total of 3.3 billion was spent for this purpose, 57 percent of which was from European Funds.
  • Onshore wind farms: Investments in wind farms received support in the amount of PLN 1.9 billion.
  • Investments in transmission networks: PLN 3.03 billion has been allocated for the expansion and modernization of transmission networks. 1977 km of extra-high voltage networks were modernised or built. This represented 12.3% of the total length of this type of network in Poland and 1391 km of district heating network.

Beneficiaries of EU programmes

In the years 2007-2020, nearly PLN 20 billion was allocated for nationwide energy investments. European funds account for as much as 81 percent of this amount. Regionally, the largest beneficiaries of EU programmes were the following voivodeships:

  • West Pomerania: Received PLN 12.5 billion, 28% financed from European Funds
  • Lower Silesia: Received PLN 10 billion, 43% financed from European Funds
  • Mazowieckie: It received PLN 7 billion, 44 percent financed from European Funds

The high level of energy investments in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship was primarily the result of the construction and then expansion of the functionality of the Liquefied Natural Gas Regasification Terminal in Świnoujście (nearly PLN 6 billion). The second investment was the construction of the Gdańsk Przyjaźń – Żydowo Kierzkowo – Słupsk line, along with the construction of a station on this line (PLN 1 billion).

Development of renewable energy sources (RES) and the decline in coal-fired production

EU funds have had a major impact on the development of renewable energy sources (RES) in Poland. Electricity production from RES has increased dynamically. In 2004 only 3% of energy came from RES, and in 2023 it was already 27%. Over PLN 5 billion has been invested in onshore wind farms and photovoltaic farms.

In 2004, as much as 94% of electricity in Poland came from the combustion of hard coal and lignite. As a result of the transformation of the energy sector, the share of coal in energy production decreased to 59% in 2023.

The future of the energy sector

The planned allocations for 2021–2027 exceed PLN 14.5 billion and are focused on the construction of offshore wind farms. Poland has a chance to strengthen its position on the renewable energy market. And contribute to the fight against climate change.

EU funds have played a key role in the development of Polish energy infrastructure. The transformation of the energy sector in Poland was possible thanks to EU financial support and investments in renewable energy sources. There are still many challenges ahead of us, but the direction is right – towards a sustainable and clean energy future.

Source: „Dwie dekady modernizacji. Rola Funduszy Europejskich w polskiej infrastrukturze energetycznej”,  The Polish Economic Institute

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