Q: Deputy Prime Minister, you are the person responsible for Polish state energy assets. What are your main priorities for the Polish energy sector in 20 and 30 years?
A: “Poland and Europe are currently facing one of the greatest energy crises in history. Caused by the criminal policy of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine. Rising commodity prices, fuel shortages in European markets or the spread of disinformation targeting European companies are all the result of an unpredictable and neo-imperialist policy of Putin and his closest entourage. Therefore, as the person responsible for overseeing Polish assets, including mining and energy companies, my top priority is to ensure the energy security of Poland and the Polish nation. In a nutshell, this means ensuring a stable, uninterrupted and reasonably priced supply of fuel and electricity. Polish citizens and companies operating in Poland should not suffer from the brutal actions and delirious ambitions of the Russian leadership. True energy security must be based on energy sovereignty.
“At the very beginning of the rule of the United Right in Poland, we set ourselves the goal of such sovereignty. We didn’t want to end up like Germany, for example, which has become hostage to Russia’s hydrocarbons. Today I am happy to say that Poland is safe. Effective efforts have been made to provide coal or gas from reliable, non-Russian sources, offering Poles the prospect of a warm autumn and winter, as well as energy security based on energy sovereignty at long term. It is our top priority, here and now, and in the years to come – a priority shared by the energy companies I oversee as Minister of Assets.
Q: Developing energy security and reducing energy dependence are two of the main European objectives, as well as the pillars of the Polish energy policy by 2040. How will the Polish energy mix evolve in the years to come?
A: “The foundation of Poland’s energy security is the stability of energy sources. Due to the specificity of Poland, this stability is based on coal, and for many reasons, including historical ones, this is what our electricity system is based on. Undoubtedly, renewable energies will become one of the pillars of our electricity system and their role will increase year by year. However, due to their instability, they cannot be the primary energy source. This is why we are looking at nuclear power, because we support the idea of green conservatism, that is to say a responsible, fair energy transition, oriented towards the common good of our fellow citizens.
“We will focus on clean technologies, such as photovoltaics, hydropower, onshore and offshore wind farms. Nuclear being the one that stabilizes the whole system. We plan to successively commission modern gas-fired units, replacing obsolete coal-fired installations. It is important to note that these units will not use Russian fuel, but from the Norwegian plateau. Its supply will be ensured by the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, built on the initiative of our government, to LNG [liquified natural gas] terminal in Świnoujście. It allows us to import liquid gas from any direction in the world.
“We will also push for a fundamental review of existing climate and energy policies ensuring that they are not detached from geopolitical reality. Poland bears significant costs related to the CO2 emissions trading system, which translates into a high cost of energy production. We struggle to accept this model in times of war and energy crisis. It is time to change this damaging pattern.
Q: The share of nuclear energy in European electricity production is a quarter. What future for the atom in Poland, including small modular reactors (SMR), from the point of view of the Polish energy mix in 2040?
A: “These last few months have been a nuclear renaissance in Europe. According to experts, safe and carbon-free energy is the hope for a better future in the energy sector. Personally, I’m delighted. Not just because as a country we are interested in building large-scale units that will operate at the base of our system. And also because we have the support of the Polish people who are beginning to see more and more clearly the benefits of introducing nuclear power into the Polish energy mix. On these bases, together with our foreign partners, we plan to build safe and modern high-power nuclear reactors. We are also open-minded and hopeful about SMRs. We see how, especially in these difficult times, they become a reasonable bridge between the opportunities that nuclear energy has to offer.
Q: The Baltic Sea has very promising potential for offshore wind development and eight countries in the region plan to expand their investments from the current 2.8 GW to 19.6 GW of installed capacity by 2030. Polish companies are also at the forefront of this campaign, together with their overseas partners, and Poland is planning 6 GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2030. How important is this technology to Poland’s energy transition from your point sight?
A: “Its relevance is unquestionably high. An energy system based on offshore wind assets is particularly important because, as experts have repeatedly pointed out, the Baltic can play a vital role in efforts to achieve climate neutrality.
“Moreover, this applies both to Poland and to Europe in the perspective of 2050. The development of this segment can contribute not only to an increase in the dynamics of energy transformation of the various countries of the region, but also to an acceleration of their economic development, because it involves the transfer of modern technologies. I am delighted that the companies under the supervision of the Ministry of State Property, PGE, Orlen and Enea to name but a few, want to play their part in this process. “However, the development of renewable energies must go hand in hand with the construction of modern and efficient energy storage facilities. These sources are unfortunately, for obvious reasons, invariably dependent on weather conditions. Therefore, putting them at the base of electrical systems would be very risky, even irresponsible. Nevertheless, I hope that over time, with appropriate technology, Poland will be able to take full advantage of the potential of its natural resources – access to water reservoirs – and reap the benefits of without carbon. Even so, in terms of energy security today, we look primarily to nuclear power.