Natural resources, energy and environment
Poland has significant natural resources,
including large deposits of coal, lignite, copper and
sulfur. Copper deposits in Dolny Śląsk (Lower Silesia)
are considered among the largest in the world and the
presence of sulfur is among the richest in Europe. But
large dependence on coal for electricity generation and
heat also creates air pollution.
Minor amounts of oil, natural gas and iron ore are
also extracted. Furthermore, there are minor amounts of
zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, chromium, rock salt,
potassium salts, phosphates, clay, chalk, quartz and
Major exports by Poland with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
The mining industry, not least coal mining, is
contracted with ever-lower productivity and lower
profitability as coal prices in the world market fall.
State involvement in the sector has therefore increased,
especially since the Conservative PiS government took
office in 2015.
Coal is Poland's most important energy source and
accounts for just over four-fifths of the energy demand.
In addition, Poland is dependent on imported natural
gas. Most of the gas is purchased from Russia, but
through new agreements with the USA and Norway, among
others, the Russian gas will be replaced. More than a
fifth of Poland's annual consumption of natural gas is
extracted in the country, the remainder being purchased
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, PL stands for Poland.
Several important natural gas agreements have been
signed in recent years. In 2015, Poland signed an
agreement with the EU to supply gas to Estonia, Latvia
and Lithuania via a new pipeline. In 2020, an Italian
company has been commissioned to build a pipeline in the
Baltic Sea, south of Skĺne, for natural gas deliveries
between Denmark and Poland. Both projects are based on
EU funding and aim to make Poland and the Baltic States
less dependent on Russia for their energy supply.
About 80 percent of electricity in Poland was
produced from coal in 2018. The goal is for coal to
account for 60 percent of electricity in 2030 and 30
per cent in 2040. In order to succeed in this, it is
planned for nuclear power. In 2011, plans were announced
for a first nuclear power plant on the Baltic Sea coast,
and in 2014 the government gave a clear sign to the
construction of two reactors that will be completed by
2033. More nuclear power is being discussed. Hydropower
plays a minor role. The development of onshore wind
power has been hampered by a regulatory framework passed
by the PiS Government in 2016. Wind turbines must be
located far from buildings.
The fact that the Polish government plans for
electricity production that is not based on coal does
not mean that coal consumption will decrease. Coal is
the most important source of heating, and if your own
production is not enough, you are expected to import.
Two-thirds of Polish households rely on coal or garbage
to get heat, and the coal-fired electric power plants to
a large extent use old technology, with large emissions.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide in
particular from carbon combustion lead to air pollution
and acidified watercourses. Emissions from agriculture
and industry partly fall into the Baltic Sea. At the
same time, southern Poland is one of the areas in Europe
where air pollution is greatest. Based on the content of
dangerous small particles in the air, Kraków and
Katowice usually place themselves among the most
air-united cities in Europe.
Within the EU, Poland has made several exceptions and
deadlines for the transition to a less environmentally
harmful energy production, as it fears that such a
change will lead to sharp price increases for households
or industry (see Calendar).
Over the past two decades, the environment in Poland
has nevertheless improved. The heavy industry has been
partly replaced by a more environmentally friendly light
industry. Environmental awareness among the Poles has
also increased. In Warsaw, actress Grażyna Wolszczak
broke ground when she sued the state for endangering her
health by not limiting emissions: she won the goal.
However, it will take many years for Poland to meet EU
Researcher Olga Malinkiewicz has been recognized for
a method of developing solar cells that could make solar
energy cheaper. Malinkiewicz uses perovskite, a mineral
discovered in the Ural Mountains as early as 1830, but
she relies on a Japanese method that could only be used
on materials that withstand high temperatures. Her new
materials have been tested in Japan and by the
construction company Skanska, on a building in Warsaw.
Investigations have shown that Poland has assets of
shale gas, that is, natural gas stored in shale bricks.
A future extraction of shale gas could reduce Poland's
dependence on gas imports. And even though it is still a
fossil fuel, Poland sees in the shale gas an opportunity
to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the coal. In
this way, Poland could approach EU environmental
requirements. Russian semi-state gas company Gazprom
sponsors environmental organizations protesting against
shale gas mining and points to its disadvantages, not
least the high costs of gas extraction.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2 490 kilograms of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
3972 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
285 740 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
7.5 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
11.9 percent (2015)
The government retains power
The Citizens' Platform (PO) wins the seismic
selection for the second time in a row. Prime Minister
Donald Tusk does a minor government reshuffle but
continues to rule with the PO and the Polish Peasant
Poland becomes EU President
Poland will become the EU Presidency (for six months)
for the first time since the Polish accession to the
Union in 2004.
"The catastrophe error of both Russians and Poles"
The Polish crash report on the plane crash in Russia
in April 2010 distributes the blame for the training of
the Polish pilots, the actions of the Russian air
traffic controllers and the lighting at the airport in
Smolensk. As a result of the report's conclusions on the
Air Force's pilot training, the Polish Defense Minister
Changes in the pension system
The government is changing the pension system so that
compulsory savings in funds of 7.3 percent is reduced
to 2.3 percent, while 5 percent instead goes via ZUS
(the insurance fund) to pensioners. In this way, the
state budget looks better and the government does not
have to borrow for the change.
Kaczyński boycotted a memorial ceremony
Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński boycotted the
official commemorative ceremony one year after the
Smolensk air crash in Russia.
Russia blames disaster on Poland
The Russian crash investigation's final report places
the blame for the Polish crash in Smolensk in April 2010
on the Polish pilots. Opposition leader Jarosław
Kaczyński describes the report as a "mockery" and is
supported by many Poles who believe that Russia is
guilty of the disaster.