Countries' perspectives on SOER 2015 - Energy cross-country comparison Country perspectives
Renewable energy resources are abundantly available in Ireland. However, only a fraction of these resources have been tapped so far. They offer sustainable alternatives to our dependency on fossil fuels as well as a means of reducing harmful greenhouse emissions and opportunities to reduce our reliance on imported fuels.
The energy sector is the one with biggest impact on the environment. Coal, with 64.8% has the highest participation within the primary energy resources available for 2012, although there was a significant decrease of available amount of coal compared to 2011 (about 6%). Lignite was the predominant product taking 97.4% of total coal available as the primary source. Renewable energy sources represent only about 9% of primary energy resources available.
Luxembourg has a low share of RES when compared to GIEC. Firstly, Luxembourg has no big national power plant but one cogeneration installation that is considered so far as a thermic unit. Its potential for RES is limited (no big rivers, no coastline). Its RES is mainly wind power and PV cells and nowadays Luxembourg is extending its production based on fermentation (biomass/biogas). Secondly, and that is the most important explanation, with the high "road fuel sales to non -residents" (three quarters of the total road fuel sales) the share of RES is definitely low when compared to the GIEC.
The last two decades are the phase of significant changes in the field of energy and environmental protection in Poland. Transition to a market economy was followed by a deep restructuring of energy sector and energy intensive industries, which resulted in the reduction of pressure on the environment and rationalizing resource management.
Energy remains very high on the policy agenda in Poland. The government has made commendable efforts over the last years to comply with European Union requirements and to develop a solid energy policy framework. Taking into account current processes (including globalization and EU climate and energy objectives) Poland’s energy sector faces numerous challenges requiring huge investments, innovative policy and regulatory framework. Integration of energy and climate strategies will facilitate the design of effective policies to meet the goals of energy security, competitiveness, economic growth and environmental sustainability.
The major challenges and the main policy objectives for Poland are reflected in Energy Policy of Poland until 2030 (approved by the government in 2009; currently being updated with the perspective of 2050) and Energy security and the environment strategy (approved by the government in 2014). Joint coordination of actions undertaken in energy and environmental sector will be profitable for both due to the fact that energy sector is one of the main sources of pressures on environment.
Comparing with Kyoto Protocol base year (1989) Poland’s total GHG emissions have decreased by almost 30 % (while the EU-28 reduction was about 18% since 1990). The national GHG emissions are now much below Poland’s target under the Kyoto Protocol. Despite the carbon-based economy, in 2012 GHG emissions in Poland were lower than in the leading low-carbon energy countries: Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France.
Although Poland’s energy‐related GHG emissions are on a reduction path, the GHG emissions per capita and per million EUR GDP were one of the highest in the EU with value: 10.3 t/capita and 1046.63 t/million EUR respectively. The above indicators are continuously being improved due to environmental protection activities, restructuring of industry and energy efficiency improvements.
Mitigating negative environmental impact of the power industry is one of the priorities of Energy policy of Poland until 2030 and other governmental programs. However, Poland has a much wider range of correlated energy priorities (i.e. energy efficiency, energy security, competitive fuel and energy markets, RES, nuclear energy) which lead to GHG emission abatement.
Energy efficiency is considered as the pillar of energy policy. In the period 1990 -2012 energy intensity of Polish economy decreased by 30 %. Poland has made a significant progress in energy efficiency improvement. Still there is a great potential in this field, especially in transforming the energy, building and transport sectors.
Poland, being a member of the European Union, has established a target for 2020 – to have 15% of renewable energy in energy mix. The development of RES in Poland is very dynamic and in 2012 Poland has achieved the 11% share of RES in the final energy consumption. It means that 15% target for 2020 should be met.
The share of RES in gross electricity consumption in Poland increased to almost 11% in 2012 and is projected to reach 19% in 2020. At present, the Polish power system includes almost 6 GW of renewables. The majority of investment is done in onshore wind and biomass sectors – thanks to them since 2011 there has been a constant increase in installed capacity, exceeding 1 GW annually.
Poland supports the development of renewable energy sources, provided that the process is carried out in a sustainable way, in order not to cause a disturbance in the inland power system and does not have negative impact on the functioning of the internal energy market.
Poland implements its main EU energy and climate objectives under specific domestic conditions taking into account the protection of interests of customers, the indigenous energy resources, technological conditions and commitments in the field of environmental protection. The large share of coal in the Polish energy-mix (53% in 2012) and in the structure of electricity generation (84% in 2012) is one of the biggest energy challenges but also an opportunity for development. Extensive coal resources are an asset for Poland ensuring the energy security of the country for decades. In that context, development of clean coal technologies is seen as an efficient way to reconcile the targets of reducing the environmental impact of coal combustion with the objectives of energy security, competitiveness of the economy and sustainable growth.
Poland is convinced that energy security can be ensured at a high level when it is based on its own resources to the greatest extent possible. In that context, the efficient use of natural resources is an important factor of sustainable development of the country.
Sweden has the highest renewable energy target of all EU countries, the third highest target of all EEA countries. There has been a general upward trend in the overall share of renewable energy in Sweden. The increase seen over the past years has partly been due to a higher contribution from heat pumps, following the introduction of new guidelines on calculation methods from the Commission. Before these guidelines were produced, Sweden made a more conservative assessment of the contribution from heat pumps. The target for the share of renewable energy use in 2020 is already achieved.
Sweden is among the countries where the gross inland energy consumption has increased but one of the countries with the smallest increase. For the national energy intensity target in 2020, which is expressed as supplied energy relative to GDP, it is difficult to say if the target will be achieved or not.
The definition of gross inland energy consumption (GEIC) most closely matches the UK’s primary demand energy figures. Overall primary energy demand increased slightly from 2011 to 2012 (1.4 per cent), though this fell marginally (by 0.4 per cent) in 2013. UK indigenous production fell by 10.8 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and has since fallen by an additional 6.3 per cent in 2013.
Although fossil fuel dependency remained high in 2012 at 87.4 per cent, it has fallen slightly in 2013 to 86.2 per cent. Some of this decrease is represented by the UK’s progress towards its 15 per cent target set by the 2009 EU Renewables Directive which has now grown from 3.0 per cent in 2009 to 4.2 per cent in 2012. In 2013, this growth increased to provide 5.2 per cent of the UK energy consumption. Note that this percentage is based on the Capped Gross Final Energy Consumption (CGFEC) as specified in the directive.
Much of the additional capacity is the result of further conversions of coal fired power stations to biomass and also an increase in wind generation (both onshore and offshore), and to a lesser extent, solar voltaic panels.
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SOER 2015 cross-country comparisons analyse selected environmental issues across a number of EEA countries. They are part of the EEA's report SOER 2015, addressing the state of, trends in and prospects for the environment in Europe. The EEA's task is to provide timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information on Europe's environment.
For references, see www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
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