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Electric transport and renewable energy: Poland invests in Cleantech projects

Less smog, more environmentally friendly cars or coordinated waste management: cleantech is playing an increasingly important role in Poland. The numerous projects present concrete business opportunities for Swiss SMEs. Investments aiming at smog reduction are expected.

Poland invests billions in better air quality

Although air pollution has been for many years a serious problem in Poland, the issue of smog has been particularly hyped since last year. Around 90 % of smog is caused by so called “low emissions” from communal sector i.e. old boilers and low quality fuel.  According to World Health Organisation 33 out of 50 most polluted cities in the European Union are located in Poland and the government has already announced dedicated anti-smog programmes for each of the affected cities. The first regulation introduced aimed at reduction of smog is a change to the norms for boilers. Starting from July 2018 it will be possible to purchase boilers only with better performance i.e. higher emission class - at least 5.

According to Ministry for Environment Poland spent 2bn PLN (0.5bn EUR) over the past two years to improve air quality. It is expected that by 2020 the investments aiming at tackling the air pollution will account for 11bn PLN (2.6bn EUR). One of the financing sources for this is a newly introduced recycling fee – charge for plastic bags in shops.

The struggle with smog is particularly visible on the level of local authorities. 7 out of 16 voivodships (local administrative regions) have passed anti-smog resolutions. The most restrictive one has been introduced by Cracow. The city has set a deadline for modernisation of all the outdated heating systems in houses by 2022 and has prohibited heating with coal and wood starting from September 2019. Moreover local authorities in numerous cities offer their inhabitants the opportunity to receive subsidies for replacing their heaters with more eco-friendly systems.

Expected investments aiming at reducing smog include i.e. modernisation of heat networks, energy efficiency in buildings (e.g. ventilation systems, thermal modernisation), environmentally friendly heating sources (e.g. heat pumps, ecological boilers, geothermal energy), intelligent systems analysing and managing energy consumption and devices measuring air quality.

2018 crucial for electro mobility

Poland is still at initial stage of development of electric transport and corresponding infrastructure. According to European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA during the first three quarters of 2017 20’242 new alternative fuel vehicles (electrically chargeable, hybrid electric, LPG and ethanol vehicles) were registered in Poland. The growth on a yearly basis accounted for 67 %. The category of pure electric cars, “battery electric vehicles” is rather small,  263 vehicles; however this is a yearly increase of 281 %.

Due to severe smog problems electro mobility is seen as one of the measures to tackle the air pollution. The ministry of development announced in March 2017 the Electro mobility Plan for Poland that foresees one million of electric vehicles on Polish roads in 2025.

The year 2018 will be crucial for electro mobility in Poland. The Act on Electro Mobility that will contain incentives for owners of e-cars should come into force in the first quarter. New regulations aimed at making the e-transport more popular and providing an impulse for the development to the companies operating at the market.

Currently there are ca. 300 charging stations for electric vehicles available, these are situated mainly in Warsaw and common locations are shopping malls and supermarkets. As an example, Lidl started to launch its own charging stations in cooperation with ABB. In 2017 three stations have been installed and the retail chain is planning to increase this number.

Additionally, 6000 new charging stations and 400 fast charging stations should be built before the end of 2020. The investments in charging stations and corresponding modernisation of electricity network are estimated to be worth 500m EUR. It is expected that the introduction of Act on Electro Mobility will encourage the local authorities to start public tender procedures.

Moreover Poland has plans to produce its own brand of electric cars. The company Electromobility Poland, controlled by large energy concerns, has announced a contest for a prototype of the first Polish e-car. Currently Electromobility Poland is looking for a production partner. First Polish e-cars will be purchased by three large energy concerns and state-owned television that have already announced demand for 2000 vehicles.

According to estimations of Ministry for Development in October 2017 there were 79 electric buses in Polish cities and a further 349 were in planning. The ministry estimates that by 2023 this number should reach 1000. Their purchase will be financed by the National Fund of Environmental Protection and Water Management. The agreement was signed in December 2017 and the budget of 2.5bn PLN (0.6bn EUR) is confirmed. Currently the city in Warsaw is waiting for delivery of 130 electric buses that are being produced by the Polish company Solaris Bus & Coach. Other Polish manufacturers of electric buses are Autosan and Ursus. In October 2017 the latter won the largest public tender for electric buses in Europe announced by the city of Zielona Gora, Western Poland, with 47 e-buses being delivered by Ursus in 2018.

EU thresholds for renewable energy sources

The energy production in Poland is still dominated by hard coal. A situation that will not change rapidly, however Poland is required to achieve a 15 % share of renewable energy sources in its energy mix by 2020. In 2016 the share amounted to only 11.3 % and even noted a slight decrease compared to the previous year. Two past years have been difficult for the market and did not bring Poland closer to achieving its targets. It is expected that 2018 will bring some positive shift.

Due to the decreasing cost of energy production from off-shore windfarms, investments in such installations are expected. The Polish company Polenergia is planning to build two wind parks in the Baltic Sea. The company has received first permits and the construction works should start in 2020 and 2023 respectively.

The investments in renewable energy sources can be subsided from EU funds in the framework of two programmes: Infrastructure and Environment and Regional Operational Programmes. From a financial perspective  between 2014 – 2020 1.2bn EUR has been allocated for renewable energy sources. Currently announced are tendersfor the utilization of renewable energy sources in companies e.g. installations for renewable energy, energy efficient production lines, thermal modernisation of buildings, where 100 m PLN (24m EUR) has been earmarked. The companies can apply for support up to end of March 2018.

Funds in investments in waste management

Poland is obliged to recycle 50 % of paper, glass, metal and plastic in 2020, while currently this amounts to only ca. 25 %. Thus, the sector of waste management requires investments in the near future.  In August 2017 the European Commission released 1.2bn EUR for investments in waste management in Poland. The subsidies will be allocated for construction, modernisation, development of installations for collection and recycling of communal waste – screening, composting and biogas plants.

How you can benefit from these opportunities

Is one of the above statements of particular interest for your business? Please contact Katalin Dreher Hajnal – our senior consultant for Central and Eastern Europe to arrange a non-binding consulting session and explore the possibilities of your market entry. Further Information

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