The Polish government wants to introduce a capacity market so as to avoid power shortages.

The growth of renewables and a recent interconnection bringing hydropower from the Nordics via Lithuania has challenged the country’s staple reliance on coal. The use of coal as a fuel dropped 4.7 per cent for electricity generation between 2008 and 2013.

The country’s energy minister says they need the capacity market to help coal-fired power plants compete with producers of renewable energy and to avoid such shortages.

“We have to call on the European Commission for a system of financing conventional generation. If we do not build around 7 GW of new capacities in six years, then we will have to…regulate electricity consumption,” Krzysztof Tchórzewski said.

State-run power groups PGE, Tauron and Enea, which are coming under pressure from subsidised renewables such as wind power, reducing investment in new capacity.

Cheaper electricity imports, including from the hydropower-dependent Nordic region via links to Sweden and Lithuania, are pushing coal-power plants out of the system.

The government is mulling other directions to enhance energy security, with Mike Kirst, an official at Westinghouse, telling EurActiv Polish authorities have spoken of potentially building up to 11 nuclear reactors by 2030.

For now the government remains unconvinced on the ability of renewables.

 “There is no energy safety or stability of supplies without conventional power generation. We can improve on emissions, but conventional generation will always have to be there,” Tchorzewski said.

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