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NEW PAPER: Fractured Visions

Fractured visions: Anticipating (un)conventional natural gas in Poland

To better understand the recent Polish shale gas “frenzy”, it is pertinent to study (un)conventional natural gas in the broader context of Poland as a post-communist country that has struggled to achieve a meaningful transformation of its coal-dominated energy system. By scrutinising official documents issued by the Polish government institutions between 1990 and 2017, we disclose specific fractures in how the role and scope of natural gas in the energy system have been envisioned in national policies and strategies. We demonstrate that the fractures occur at the intersection of two distinct logics: security concerned with the preservation of existing conditions and transition focused on change in the energy system. We draw attention to the shortcomings of prognostic practices underpinning both security and transition: overestimation in demand forecasts and uncertainty of resource estimates. In the effort to transform the national energy system, Poland's natural gas policy miscalculations have resulted in a substantial demand-side discontinuity and lock-in to one external gas supplier, which exacerbated the country's preoccupation with supply-side security. Yet, Polish high hopes for developing home-grown gas from shales lacked concrete policy visions and were a symptom of long-term stress that has gradually accumulated as the result of supply-demand imbalances.

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