Poland spent a record 193bn zlotys (€42.9bn) on fossil fuel imports in 2022, nearly double the 100bn zlotys it spent the previous year, according to Polish think tank Forum Energii’s latest annual report on the energy transition in Poland.

Rising commodity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have translated Poland’s need to import fossil fuels into a considerable expense. The country’s high energy intensity and growing dependence on imports is resulting in substantial financial transfers and a growing risk to energy security, says the think tank. In addition, the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose (by 0.3%) last year, despite global efforts to reduce emissions to tackle climate change.

The report dismisses the common notion of a coal renaissance in Poland’s power industry in 2022. Hard coal-fired power generation fell by 6% in 2022 compared with a year earlier, it calculates, due to coal supply constraints, high prices and the decreasing availability of coal-fired plants. A steady decline in domestic thermal coal production led to 17 million tonnes of coal imports in 2022.

At the same time, soaring gas prices forced a 25% reduction in the output of Poland’s gas-fired power stations.

In order meet the rising demand for electricity, Poland must increasingly turn to renewable energy sources, says Forum Energii. The report posits a 102% year-on-year increase – four terawatt-hours (TWh) – in power production from photovoltaics in 2022 and a 19% increase (3TWh) in power production from onshore wind farms.

Poland must set “realistic energy targets” to motivate market players to invest in renewables, says the think tank. It calls on the Polish Government to update Poland’s National Energy and Climate Action Plan, with adequate public consultation.

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“Questions need to be asked: how much coal, gas, oil do we [Poland] need, not just in the power sector itself, but in the whole economy – industry, services, households, heating?” said Joanna Mackowiak-Pandera, president of Forum Energii, in a press release. “We can reduce their use through energy efficiency and renewable sources.”

Poland currently ranks seventh globally in terms of unit GHG emissions for the entire economy, with 2.84 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent. This places Poland only slightly below major emitters like China, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.