Polish effort to incentivize renewable energy gets European approval

Poland is central to the effort to diversify the regional energy sector, as well as push the European community away from Russia.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 9:01 AM
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Dec. 13 (UPI) -- An $11 billion Polish effort to support the development of renewable energy secured the nod from European regulators, a commissioner said.

The Polish government is supporting a scheme to cut levies to finance the development of renewable energy in a nation that has few natural resources of its own. Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner in charge of competition in the European Union, said the effort lines up with bloc-wide efforts to create a diverse and sustainable energy sector.

"We want to make progress toward green energy for the sake of our environment but also for European economic growth," she said in a statement. "The Polish support scheme will increase the share of green energy in Poland's energy mix and help the country's energy transition."

Smaller renewable energy projects would be supported by a feed-in tariff, typically a long-term contract based on the cost of generation. Larger installations would get a premium on top of the market price for electricity.

Poland relies on Russian energy company Gazprom for most of its natural gas shipments, though, like its European counterparts, it has tried to diversify its economy.

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.

Shale natural gas from the United States has made its way to the European market, including Poland's, in the form of liquefied natural gas. The Russian government has accused the United States of trying to muscle its way into the regional energy sector and close to the belt of the Kremlin's sphere of influence.

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