Energy Use in Poland, 1970-1991: Sectoral Analysis and International Comparison

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This report provides an analysis of how and why energy use has changed in Poland since the 1970s, with particular emphasis on changes since the country began its transition from a centrally planned to a market economy in 1989. The most important factors behind the large decline in Polish energy use in 1990 were a sharp fall in industrial output and a huge drop in residential coal use driven by higher prices. The structural shift away from heavy industry was slight. Key factors that worked to increase energy use were the rise in energy intensity in many heavy industries and the shift toward more energy-intensive modes of transport. The growth in private activities in 1991 was nearly sufficient to balance out continued decline in industrial energy use in that year.

We compared energy use in Poland and the factors that shape it with similar elements in the West. We made a number of modifications to the Polish energy data to bring it closer to a Western energy accounting framework, and augmented these with a variety of estimates in order to construct a sufficiently detailed portrait of Polish energy use to allow comparison with Western data. Per capita energy use in Poland was not much below W. European levels despite Poland's much lower GDP per capita. Poland has comparatively high energy intensities in manufacturing and residential space heating, and a large share of heavy industries in manufacturing output, all factors that contribute to higher energy use per capita. The structure of passenger and freight transportation and the energy intensity of automobiles contribute to lower energy use per capita in Poland than in Western Europe, but the patterns in Poland are moving closer to those that prevail in the West.

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