Sunday, September 13, 2009

Old and new thoughts on energy and transport in Poland

The first part of my travel is now complete, and I have reached a place with a slightly slower pace of life, and one that is a little cooler than Missouri.

Market Square in Krakowa with the carriage horses lined up (and being kept working if not really busy).

We arrived this morning and came down here for a gentle lunch, the horses’ hooves are now shod with a rubber pad to lower the sound as the clop around the square.

Polish carriage horses with pads on the horseshoes

For those with less time, or perhaps romance in their souls, the taxis that go on tours have been changed so that small electric carts that now can carry you around (very similar to golf carts) are available.

Tourist transport – Kracowa (Cracow)
For the general populace electric street cars are ubiquitous and of a variety of vintages – this is one of the more modern.

Polish street car

The busses seemed relatively full – even for a Sunday afternoon, and ran very regularly – however we are located where we can walk to all the places we need to be, which gives an excuse to enjoy local food a little more.

The availability of public transport on a widely available basis in the centers of the cities in Europe and the ease with which you can move around the countries on such transport contrasts with some experiences in the Midwest, where one of us had just travelled by Greyhound bus and had discovered the hard way that having a bus ticket does not guarantee that you will get a seat on the bus – or even on it – and even first come doesn’t always help get a seat, since luggage can be moved to push you back down the line.

It will be interesting to hear what the current attitudes to the coming shortage of oil is currently. Certainly in our short walk to the square the motor traffic on the streets seemed denser, and moved faster than it used to, and there did not appear to be a concern with energy availability.

Their current priorities are:
Improving energy efficiency, increasing security of supply and developing competitive markets for fuels and energy, introducing nuclear power, increasing the use of renewable sources and reducing the impact of energy on the environment.
This is a broad enough set of goals not to offend anyone, I would have thought, but there is perhaps controversy in the details.

There is a plan to provide “white certificates” with financial value, to those who save the most energy, in a country where the plan is to maintain zero energy growth.

The country will aggressively pursue high-efficiency co-generation of power and heat , and promote more energy efficient appliances.

Increasing energy security involves:
Poland's energy security will be based on domestic fuel and energy resources, especially hard coal and lignite. This will ensure independence from the production of electricity and, in large part, heat from external sources of supply.
In the area of oil, gas and liquid fuels the document assumes diversification, which now applies not only to supply sources, but also to production technologies. Support will be given to develop technologies whereby it will be possible to acquire liquid and gaseous fuels from domestic resources.

The current forecasts on the possibility of covering future demand for electricity in Poland indicate the need to increase capacity. Commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions force Poland to look for low-emission solutions in the production of electricity. All available technologies to produce energy from coal will be utilized, provided that they reduce air pollution (including a substantial cut in CO2 emissions)
The plans for nuclear power at the moment are more focused on putting the necessary resources in place to be able to reach this objective.

To meet the targets for renewable energy a target of 15% share of consumption by 2020, and 20% by 2030. By 2020 there should also be 10% of the liquid fuel provided by biodiesel.

A ceiling will be introduced to cap levels of emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide, with limits on the amount that different industries can generate, while encouraging the use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery and for other industrial uses.
At the present time the government feels that the nation is energy secure .
Pawlak (the deputy prime minister) said that Poland’s energy security is based on domestic black coal deposits. ‘The structure of primary energy use consists in 48% of black coal, 12% brown coal, 23% oil, 12% gas and 5% renewable energy sources’.
To maintain such security, however, will need more research on clean coal technologies and on renewable energy sources.

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