Changes related to the departure from solid fuels, the need to modernise, and attempts to find solutions ensuring energy efficiency and security are not simple business decisions. Industry knows this and is already faced with the dilemma of how to meet exorbitant environmental standards while maintaining business continuity and competitiveness. So, the question is not whether, but how to carry out the transformation process so that this change supports businesses.
We should not be afraid to say that sticking to fossil fuels no longer makes economic sense. Polish industry recognises the need for energy transition, because being passive in the medium and long term will lead to financial, reputational, and climate losses. Today, industry has a special responsibility, as this sector will play a key role in achieving CO2 reduction targets. In the assumptions contained in the “Fit for 55” package, the European Union has declared its willingness to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. In order to achieve this goal, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 should amount to 55% compared to 1990. These actions are intended to prevent a deep economic crisis in the future and help maintain Europe’s competitiveness. The goals are ambitious and not isolated on a global scale. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, it was clearly stated that a complete shift away from coal is needed to achieve global climate goals, and while there is talk of a gradual shift, it will have to accelerate significantly in the coming years. The future requires building an integrated energy system based largely on renewable energy.
The EU will invest in change
According to the latest report prepared by Forum Energii (the Energy Forum think tank), over PLN 560 billion may be allocated to Poland to achieve the energy transition goal. Until 2027, Poland may gain over PLN 190 billion in the form of subsidies and loans from the EU budget, as well as funds from programmes in the form of competitions. Will Poland be a beneficiary of the funds? Much depends on the decision-makers. If the government manages to reach an agreement with its European partners, Poland will take advantage of a great opportunity to modernise the country thanks to the new EU financial perspective. In the current EU perspective, as much as 30% of the budget will be spent on climate goals, including energy transformation. Another source may be revenues from CO2 emission allowances, of which approximately PLN 370 billion will flow to Poland, and it is possible that these amounts are still underestimated.
Unfortunately, although the EU perspective opens up some opportunities for Poland, the country’s readiness for the energy transition may turn out to be one of the main obstacles. In the Energy Transition Index 2020 published each year, Poland ranks 69th, in last place among the EU Member States.
Just as structural change in an energy system will be associated with benefits, not making a decision about energy transition will bring losses. The EU has announced that its financing will not cover projects emitting more than 270 g CO2/Wh. Consequently, when thinking about transformation, we should first focus on the use of renewable energy. For Polish industry, the key will be own sources and the involvement of relevant experts and specialists who will drive the change.
Dalkia is involved in this process both from the perspective of a business partner and an entity that must adapt to the current standards and procedures. That is why we decided to introduce solutions that bring us closer to achieving climate neutrality. Already in 2020, in our energy mix, energy from renewable sources and recovery amounted to 41.3%. In a year, thanks to our actions, our customers saved 6.7 TWh of energy, thanks to which we avoided the emission of 4.1 Mt CO2. This is equivalent to removing over 2 million cars from traffic.
The consumer dictates the terms
An interesting phenomenon that we have recently observed is the evolution of the expectations of customers and consumers, who are becoming more and more environmentally aware every year. This is evidenced by the popularity of the term ‘carbon footprint’. It is often used to draw attention to the environmental impact of people and the consumer decisions they make. The term is used to quantify the impact of an activity, person or country on climate change. We often use this expression in the context of the production of goods and services or methods of transport. We can assume that it will soon have a similar impact on the purchasing decisions of consumers like today’s factors such as the country where clothes are produced or the content of preservatives in food products. Some companies have already sensed this trend, especially if their carbon footprint is more favourable than that of their competitors. An excellent example is railways, which have a much smaller carbon footprint than planes or cars and announce this fact on tickets sold to passengers.
The image promoted by the media of a conscious consumer who wants to buy responsibly and believes that his or her individual decision affects the entire ecosystem will persist. So let us imagine that carbon footprints will soon be visible on labels, along with information about the country of origin, product composition, safety notices, and information about the product’s release to the market. It is possible that the consumer, rather than the economy or legal solutions, will become the main driver of the energy transition process.
In our opinion, Poland has a chance to become a country that moves successfully from a coal-dependent economy to a modern economy using renewable energy sources in the energy sector and industry, significantly reducing CO2 emissions. For this goal to be achieved, efforts are needed on the part of national and local government, as well as business through the involvement of the appropriate capital and people who will implement the necessary changes. Effective transition is a step towards energy self-sufficiency, increasing competitiveness and halting climate change. There is a lot at stake. ©℗
Over PLN 560 billion may be allocated to Poland to achieve the energy transition goal. Until 2027, Poland may gain over PLN 190 billion in the form of subsidies and loans from the EU budget, as well as funds from programmes in the form of competitions