Poland's Renewable Energy Policy Mix: European Influence and Domestic Soap Opera

CICERO Working Papers 1/2017

28 Pages Posted: 9 May 2017

See all articles by Kacper Szulecki

Kacper Szulecki

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science; ESPRi

Date Written: April 28, 2017


Poland’s energy mix is dominated by indigenous coal, and since the country joined the European Union in 2004 it has been clear that it will do much to safeguard its domestic coal sector and resist pressures for ambitious harmonized decarbonization efforts. At the same time, Poland is meeting its renewable energy targets and its onshore wind capacity is growing at a significant pace. In 2015 and 2016, a new renewable energy policy mix has been put in place, relying on tenders for renewable energy volume in large scale RES and a micro-installations support scheme. In parallel, a capacity mechanism is still on the table, though its details are only being worked out. What explains this particular choice of instruments? In this article I focus on four explanatory factors: the influence of the European environment; domestic political and organizational fields and the material and structural constraints of the energy system and resource endowment. I provide a historical overview of renewable energy policy in Poland since the early 1990s, showing how policy evolved, new actors and coalitions emerged, and how the influence of the EU changed overtime. The preliminary findings suggest that the European environment has been crucial in pushing for stronger RES support policies, while the inherently instable domestic political field explains the soap opera of renewable energy policy legislation: drafts, new plans, amendments and legal instability. On the other hand, the choice of particular instruments, within the confines of options acceptable by the EU, is best explained by the stable and segmented organizational field, dominated by a professional logic of the centralized, engineer-lead coal sector, which in turn is linked to the importance of the country’s resource endowment. In these conditions, the current renewable energy policy mix seems optimal for the actors dominating the organizational field, and a deep paradigm shift and overturning the political economy of the energy sector would be needed to change that.

Keywords: Poland, renewable energy policy, Europeanization, carbon lock-in, utilities, climate policy, harmonization

Suggested Citation

Szulecki, Kacper, Poland's Renewable Energy Policy Mix: European Influence and Domestic Soap Opera (April 28, 2017). CICERO Working Papers 1/2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2964866 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2964866

Kacper Szulecki (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317

ESPRi ( email )

Rosponda 9
Wroclaw, 52-419

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