According to available forecasts, the role of the renewable sources will be steadfastly growing at the expense of the conventional ones in the long term. Renewable energy sources are gaining their share in the global energy system faster than any other fuel in history.
The British conglomerate BP, in its Annual Energy Outlook 2020, estimates that by 2040 renewable energy sources will be the main source of energy in the world, and in addition, the production of electricity from the wind and PV sources will dominate in all of 3 scenarios for the development of the electricity production market (Rapid, Net Zero, Business-as-usual).
Renewable energy will be pushing out coal-based energy over the next two decades and will replace coal as the main source of electricity generation in 2040. In the longer term, there will also be a significant transition of our national energy mix by increasing the share of renewable energy sources to more than 60% by 2040, as well as potentially nuclear energy and a simultaneous further decline in the share of carbon sources. Taking into account the rising costs of coal-based energy as a result of the climate policy, its importance will be marginalized.
In the time frame up to 2050, the greatest challenge for Poland will be to ensure stable electricity supplies to support the country’s economic growth with increasing wealth levels, with the simultaneous need for energy transition through investments in low -emission technologies. The future of the energy sector will depend not only on its environmental impact, but also on the required adaptations to climate change. Changes in climatic conditions will have an impact on the conditions of electricity distribution or changes in the demand for electricity and heat. Infrastructure will require preparation for the effects of extreme weather and climate related events, which may cause direct damage (e.g. hurricanes, intense storms, hail, rime and snowfall may damage transmission and distribution lines), as well as indirect damage, being the long-term consequences of extreme weather and climate related events (e.g. droughts or floods).
In the long term, the possibility of the emergence of breakthrough technologies on the market that can significantly affect the energy business, e.g. fuel cells, should be taken into account. It is forecast that hydrogen technologies will be spreading widely in energy, manufacturing industry and transportation, ammonia will be used on a large scale as one of the hydrogen fuels, energy storage technologies will be significantly developed and new energy transmission technologies will be developed. In the scenario with no breakthrough technologies, the energy sector will most likely expand in an evolutionary manner, based on the already known and commercialized technologies.
It is also possible that the years 2030-2040 will be a period during which a deep review of economic development scenarios, depending on the intensity of climate change, will be required. If the ultimate temperature increase estimated for that time frame exceeds 2oC, then we are forecasting a further tightening of environmental standards towards a substantial reduction of the CO2 emissions and extremely stringent emission standards for nitrogen and sulfur oxides as well as mercury and dust. Tightening climate policy will result in a reduction in the supply of the CO2 emission allowances under the EU ETS, which will lead to a significant increase in the prices of these allowances. In the event that global temperature forecasts indicate an increase below 2oC, a scenario where high-efficiency profitable coal assets will be maintained is possible, with a simultaneous reduction of emissions through the development of low and zero-emission generation sources and limited expansion of coal fired assets, conditioned on the demand for coal fuel and the possibility of obtaining it at competitive costs.