27 May 2024

Poland: Rush for solar reaches new heights, but obstacles remain for renewable energy cooperatives

WARSAW, 28 MAY 2024 – Despite a surge in solar energy, a new briefing published today by Beyond Fossil Fuels and Polish Green Network reveals that Polish energy communities eager to deploy more solar are being stymied by a combination of push-back from established state-owned energy companies, a lack of financial support, inadequate grid infrastructure, and a web of regulatory uncertainties. As a result, although Poland’s solar capacity has more than doubled in the last three years, only 30 of the EU’s 9,000 energy communities are located in Poland [1]. 

Poland’s installed solar capacity surged to over 17 GW in 2023, making it the fourth-largest solar market in the European Union with over 1.3 million micro solar installations contributing to the energy mix. But the Energising Communities: Transforming Poland’s Power Sector with Locally-owned Renewables report finds that despite the immense public appetite for solar, communities that seek to combine their resources and launch an energy cooperative face a needlessly tough operating environment.

Energy communities consistently tell us they’re eager to seize the potential of solar power to reduce energy bills, create local jobs and cut air pollution. They also recognise that decentralised solar systems have been far more effective in the context of Russia’s onslaught in neighbouring Ukraine than the centralised power system. But these voluntary, community-based initiatives face an uneven playing field due to the presence of large state-owned power companies, and must overcome numerous funding, grid-connection and regulatory hurdles,” said Michal Zablocki from Beyond Fossil Fuels

Under current legal conditions, solar panels are de facto the only source of electricity generation deployed by energy communities, with the rollout of onshore wind hamstrung in Poland by harsh distancing rules [2]. Poland remains the largest per capita CO2 emitter in the European Union due to the large share (61 percent) of coal in its electricity generation mix [3]. However, Poland’s energy communities are clear that the coal era is rapidly coming to an end and consider themselves key players in transitioning the country beyond coal.

Poland’s energy cooperatives face numerous challenges, but they’re displaying incredible resilience and remain optimistic that renewables will form the backbone of a green, democratic, and secure power system. Because they elect their leaders, these cooperatives make decisions that are made for the common good, resulting in lots of benefits for their communities, such as cheaper energy, enhanced energy security, and a deepening of local democracy,” said Dr. Justyna Orłowska of the Polish Green Network.

END

Media contacts

Rafał Rykowski, Communications Specialist, Polish Green Network,
[email protected], +48 664 197 608

Michał Zablocki, Communications and Campaign Consultant, Beyond Fossil Fuels
[email protected], +48 500 126 685

Julia Pazos, Communications Officer, Beyond Fossil Fuels
[email protected], +1 310 9949692

Notes

  1. Poland’s solar capacity increased from 7.7GW in 2021 to 17,08GW in 2023
    https://ieo.pl/aktualnosci/1684-fotowoltaika-w-polsce-w-2023-i-2024-nowe-moce-i-nowe-wyzwania
  2. https://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20230000553
  3. https://ember-climate.org/insights/in-brief/changing-course-polands-energy- in-2023/
  4. Energising Communities: Transforming Poland’s Power Sector with Locally-owned Renewables

About 

Beyond Fossil Fuels is a collective civil society campaign committed to ensuring all of Europe’s electricity is generated from fossil-free, renewable energy by 2035. It expands and builds upon the Europe Beyond Coal campaign, and its goal of a coal-free Europe in power and heat by 2030 at the latest. www.beyondfossilfuels.org

The Polish Green Network is a nationwide non-governmental organisation with a public benefit organisation status, acting for sustainable development, environmental and climate protection. It’s one of Poland’s longest operating environmental NGOs.

Read also
BLOG
REPORT
BRIEFING
PRESS RELEASE
INFOGRAPHIC

10 June 2024

The expansion of renewable energy is driving coal out of Greece, with coal output plummeting to a record low of 50 GWh in May 2024 – more than three times lower than the previous record.

BLOG
REPORT
BRIEFING
PRESS RELEASE
INFOGRAPHIC

30 May 2024

Local people and environmental activists are gathering in Nijmegen this Saturday 1 June to oppose ENGIE’s plan to build a new 500 MW fossil gas plant on the site of its former coal plant.

BLOG
REPORT
BRIEFING
PRESS RELEASE
INFOGRAPHIC

27 May 2024

Energy communities are essential for decentralising power systems and advancing the transition to a fully renewable-based European power system by 2035.

BLOG
REPORT
BRIEFING
PRESS RELEASE
INFOGRAPHIC

15 May 2024

Amidst years of legal battles, Poland’s Turów coal mine continues to inflict damage on nearby communities in Germany and Czechia, draining water, damaging peoples’ homes, and destroying the climate.