Poland’s largest power producer, state-controlled PGE Group, plans to boost its renewable energy capacity to 6.5GW by 2030 as the utility that still depends heavily on coal and lignite strives to become carbon neutral by mid-century.

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“We have firmly committed to low and zero-carbon energy sources. Our goal is the climate neutrality of PGE Group in 2050,” PGE chairman Wojciech Dabrowski said.

“In order to achieve this, we are accelerating the process of change in the company. Already in 2030, PGE Group will be a completely different company.”

Change in energy policy?

The utility’s current generation portfolio is still 80% based on coal and lignite, much like Poland’s overall electricity mix.

PGE’s net zero pledge could signal a change in attitudes in Polish energy policy. It comes as the country’s government is still resisting the EU’s 2050 decarbonisation target, threatening to hold up the economic block’s Green Deal plans.

By 2030, PGE intends to have built 2.5GW of offshore wind capacity, 3GW of PV and 1GW of onshore wind. In addition, large-scale projects will be linked to complementary energy storage projects of at least 0.8GW.

That should push the group’s CO2 emissions down by 85%, or 120m tonnes, the company estimates.

Heavy investments

PGE plans to use natural gas as a bridge technology before completely decarbonising its energy supply by 2050.

“In the 2030 horizon, we intend to maintain our position as leader in generation based on strengthening the portfolio of renewable generation sources and conversion of coal fuel to gas in district heating,” Dabrowski said.

“Natural gas is a transition fuel and its use will remain possible for about 20 years. Subsequent investments in gas sources will depend on the pace of development of alternative technologies. In 2050 we will provide our customers with 100% green energy.”

PGE has earmarked 75bn zloty ($19.3bn) for investments by 2030. The company plans both green-field developments of renewable power projects, and acquisitions of renewable projects.