May 10 (UPI) -- From renewables to liquefied natural gas, Poland has an important role to play in the diversification efforts in Europe, a commissioner said Wednesday.
Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said the regional energy sector is in a state of transition as renewable energy options gain a foothold. For natural gas, Europe relies heavily on Russia, though alternatives are emerging from rival suppliers and from liquefied natural gas, which is less exposed to geopolitical issues because of fluid delivery options.
Some countries like Poland rely almost entirely on Russia for natural gas and Sefcovic said work was under way to bring in alternative suppliers.
"For example, a liquid natural gas terminal at [the Polish sea port at] Swinoujscie on the Baltic coast has just been completed, with the help of EU funding," the EU commission reported on Sefcovic's departure. "One of the first on-shore LNG terminals in central and eastern Europe, this will make it possible to import gas from several different countries."
In late April, Polish Oil & Gas, known by its acronym PGNiG, said its trading branch in London closed on a deal to accept LNG from Cheneire Energy, which owns a terminal in Louisiana that's the only one with the permits necessary for current exports of U.S. natural gas.
European leaders have said LNG sourced from U.S. shale basins could present a source of diversity with the right infrastructure in place.
In its review of the Polish energy sector, the International Energy Agency said coal remains a central component of the nation's economy. While it's advancing in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through investments in alternatives like nuclear power, coal remains the cornerstone of the Polish energy system.
The IEA said the future for Poland hinges on making the switch to cleaner fuel sources like natural gas as an alternative to more conventional resources like coal.
"The commission is committed to making sure that restructuring of the coal mining sector happens in a socially fair way," Sefcovic said.