By PATRYK WASILEWSKI
WARSAW -- Poland on Tuesday postponed the completion deadline for the country's first liquefied natural gas terminal by six months, dealing a setback to the country's energy-diversification efforts, as the prime minister pledged support for the coal industry.
The terminal, now due for completion at the end of 2014, and the development of Poland's shale gas deposits are important components of the government's strategy to reduce the country's dependence on natural gas imports from Russia and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
However, Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday also pledged strong support for coal as a source of energy in Poland. The country's pro-coal policy has put central and eastern Europe's biggest European Union member at loggerheads with Brussels.
"Energy independence...requires not only diversification of energy sources, but most of all using domestic sources to the maximum," Mr. Tusk said in a speech in Katowice, the heart of Poland's coal mining industry.
"That's why we decided that renewable energy sources, a necessary supplement for Polish energy, will be as limited as much as is possible in Europe. [...] Hard coal, lignite and in the near future shale gas will be key for us. This is the future of the Polish energy sector."
To protect its coal-dependent and outdated energy utilities, Poland has opposed EU efforts for greater reductions in pollution limits in recent years.
The country's largest power station, the lignite-fired Belachatow plant, tops the EU's list of the bloc's biggest single producers of carbon emissions.
Many international utilities that rushed into Poland to build renewable energy facilities, mainly wind farms, are now selling those facilities to Polish state-controlled utilities amid disillusionment about the future and profitability of renewable energy in the country.
In June, DONG Energy closed a deal to sell its wind farms to PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna for 683 million zlotys ($212 million) following a similar disposal by Spain's Iberdrola.
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