Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The country will need imports of equipment and technologies in order to reach the EU target of 15 percent of the energy supply coming from renewable sources by 2020.

In 2015, Poland was the eighth-largest economy in the EU and one of the fastest growing countries in Europe. Its GDP growth is projected to continue at a rate of over 3 percent per year. Despite this remarkable trend, the Polish energy sector faces great challenges. Poland’s economy is twice as energy-intensive as the EU average, and the country is dependent on other nations for its energy supply.

Nearly 90 percent of Poland’s electricity is produced by hard and brown coal plants, mostly built before 1980. These old power plants do not comply with modern technologies and current EU environmental requirements. To modernize the old coal plants, the Polish government will spend $650 million per year, Additional investments of $9 billion are being made in the Polish electric power industry with new coal plants in Opole ($3.2 billion), Kozienice ($1.66 billion) and Jaworzno ($1.04 billion).

Only 11.4 percent of energy was produced from by renewable sources in 2015. Poland is required to achieve a share of 15 percent renewable energy by 2020, and will need to make investments to reach that target. Of the current renewable energy that is generated, 89 percent comes from biomass and waste, and 8.2 percent from wind; hydropower, geothermal and solar energy contribute minor percentages.

A major milestone toward meeting the EU requirement is the inauguration of new offshore windfarms in the Baltic Sea. Polenergia plans a wind park with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW) and investments of $2.57 billion by 2020, and PGE Energia Odnawialna will start construction of a $4.18 billion wind farm in 2017. With 1.3 gigawatts (GW) in new installations, Poland already places in the top 10 countries worldwide for wind power installations in 2015. In total, the country wants to realize 5.3 GW of onshore wind power, as well as 27MW offshore, by 2020. Additionally, photovoltaic plants with more than 1,000 MW are planned for coming years.

The Polish bank Zachodni WBK (Santander Group) is estimating investment in the energy sector at $33.8 billion through 2030. This includes around $13 billion for highly sophisticated and efficient coal power plants, $2.3 billion for the first nuclear power plant in Poland, and offshore wind farms with investments of around $7 billion. The EU cohesion fund will provide $81 billion for the co-financing of Polish projects in various areas through 2020. The energy sector will benefit greatly from these investments, and there are opportunities to receive funding support for projects related to efficient coal plants and renewable energy.

Wisconsin firms in the coal and renewable energy sector can strongly benefit from these opportunities. A history of exports to Poland in the energy sector is well established. In 2015, U.S. firms exported goods worth more than $99 million, including steam turbines ($2 million), gas turbine parts ($8.8 million), electric transformers, static converters, and boards and panels with electric switches ($10.1 million), to Poland’s energy sector in 2015. This represents a 25 percent increase compared to the year before. New records are also expected to be set in 2016. Through August, U.S. companies exported electrical power systems worth $71 million to Poland.

A good opportunity to start business in Poland is the energy, power and control industry fair ENERGETAB, Sept. 12-14, 2017, in Bielsko-Biała.