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There is an urgent need for an equal, universal and free access to energy & coal data, public statistics in particular - recommends Instrat

Call to open energy data in Poland to foster just transition – open letter of Instrat Foundation and leading experts


Warsaw, Tuesday June 23rd 2020.

Open letter with signatories and legal opinion below.


Energy.instrat.pl is a new open access energy & coal data hub for Poland. Authors of the project, energy data experts from a Warsaw-based think tank Instrat, warn however that access to public statistics on the fossil fuel industry in Poland is significantly limited by a data monopoly. Hence, Instrat is publishing a letter to open energy and coal data resources in Poland, gathering support from more than 60 experts from Europe and Poland – leading scientists, think-tanks, NGOs, independent experts and Members of the Parliament have already signed Instrat’s appeal. Transparency and an open access approach are key to the success of the just energy transition – reports Instrat.


At the beginning of June, an independent think-tank focusing on energy transition and digital economy, – the Instrat Foundation – launched the first Polish energy, coal & climate data data hub energy.instrat.pl. The platform is an open access project aimed at informing stakeholders on energy & coal mining sectors in Poland. However, limited access to public statistics pushed Instrat to launch a broad initiative to systematically tackle the problem of limited data availability. Instrat’s open letter gained support from relevant stakeholders, including key energy transition experts from Europe and Poland – scientists, think-tanks, NGOs, practitioners from business and former key public sector officials.


The ongoing digitisation of the economy and the boom in distributed power generation based on renewable energy sources is a historic opportunity for every citizen, company and public facility to reduce their electricity bills and even earn money on electricity generation. However, to democratise the access to the energy sector, a universal and free access to data is needed. Instrat warns that an incumbent data monopoly held by a quasi-public entity – Energy Market Agency, is a major obstacle for making this happen.


According to experts, data accessibility in the energy sector and beyond is not only a requirement or a result of EU regulations (Clean Energy for All Europeans, European Statistics Code of Practice), but also a constitutional right in Poland (Article 61 of the Polish Constitution).


Transparency in the coal mining and energy sectors is a prerequisite for the just transition in coal regions, claims Instrat. Social acceptance of the just transition strategy requires universal access to knowledge and data in particular.


Polish government is currently drafting a plan for restructuring the hard coal mining sector in Poland, which employs more than 80 thousand people in Poland and produces some 85% of the EU coal. Experts warn that the government’s proposal will be published after the elections and without public consultation, which will further undermine trust in the decision makers.


Although the government spends around PLN 10 million (EUR 2.3 million) every year to prepare a set of publications and databases describing Polish energy and coal sector, for the last 20 years most of the statistical information has been behind a paywall, introduced intentionally to protect access to high-value information.


Institutions responsible for data collection and publication (Energy Market Agency and Industrial Development Agency) charge extremely high fees for a basic data set, which in practice limits the circle of people able to analyze data and comment on recent developments. Hence, any critical voice is systematically silenced. This data should be available free of charge on the governmental or Central Statistical Office website – concludes Instrat’s energy team.


More about the Instrat’s recommendations in the open letter published in WysokieNapiecie.pl – a leading Polish energy media platform.


Michał Hetmański, lead researcher from the Instrat Foundation indicates that the Polish government has a good starting position for change – “In the recent ranking Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) prepared by the European Commission, Poland has improved its position by two places against other EU countries, ranking the 6th last place. However, one of the categories where we fall above the EU average is data openness. This is a result of a long-term investment program financed from EU funds, where a number of public institutions have made their resources available online in open formats on the governmental portal dane.gov.pl, a twin of the UK’s flagship UK Data Service. Unfortunately, the ministries responsible for the supervision of energy and coal mining are lagging behind their peers” Hetmański points out.


The co-author of energy.instrat.pl platform and Instrat researcher Paweł Czyżak adds – “The EU regulations, such as Clean Energy for All Europeans or Public Sector Information Directive, set a clear direction in terms of open energy data and induce opening the access to resources never published before. Such a policy unlocks the market potential for new business models and boosts entrepreneurship. In particular, statistical data should be publicly available and free of charge. High DESI ranking position in terms of data openness is a good starting point, Poland should use this experience to increase transparency of the energy and coal mining sector” recommends Czyżak.


The open letter was signed by representatives of the most important institutions dealing with energy sector transformation in Poland, including Forum Energii, WWF Poland, Greenpeace Poland, members of the parliament, academia, former public sector and business practitioners, including former president of the Energy Regulatory Office Maciej Bando or social adviser to the Minister of Climate Mr Piotr Woźny, until recently heading a governmental environmental fund distributing EU ETS income.


Piotr Woźny before working in energy policy within the government was engaged in the ICT sector. In his view, the open letter is an important initiative – “The transformation of the Polish ICT sector is a model example of what can be achieved thanks to a smart market liberalization that ensures a level playing field for all market players, not just incumbent monopolists. Energy and environment sectors are a big data bag. Without an open and equal access to data, we won’t be able to boost investments in renewables and distributed energy sources. This could support the success of flagship governmental programs such as My Electricity or Clean Air. I believe that guaranteeing access to these resources is a natural continuation of the activities successfully implemented since 2016 by the Ministry of Digitization. Access to this data will also support the government administration in analyzing and shaping public policies” sums up the former President of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (NFOSiGW).


Together with establishing the platform, Instrat asked independent lawyers from the Frank Bold Foundation to consider whether any legal barriers might prevent the governmental administration from publishing the resources already available. More on this topic in a legal opinion on Instrat’s website.



Instrat’s open letter to open energy & coal data in Poland



Addressees:


Government of Poland: Ministry of Climate, Ministry of State Assets, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Digitization

Statistics Poland, Energy Regulatory Office, Energy Market Agency, Industrial Development Agency

Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne S.A.

Polskie Towarzystwo Przesyłu i Rozdziału Energii Elektrycznej (PTPiREE), Polskie Towarzystwo Elektrociepłowni Zawodowych (PTEZ), Towarzystwo Gospodarcze “Polskie Elektrownie” (TGPE)

Polish Power Transmission and Distribution Association (PTPiREE), Polish Association of Heat and Power Plants (PTEZ), Polish Power Plants Association (TGPE)

Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IGSMiE-PAN), Polish Geological Institute National Research Institute (PIG-PIB), Central Mining Institute (GIG)


Call for opening of the energy data to guarantee equal, universal and free access to information about the power market and hard coal sector


For over 15 years, Poland has been implementing EU reforms aimed at modernising and transforming the national energy sector. However, the ambitious legislation coming from and strategies driven by Brussels usually encounter resistance on the Polish ground. As a result, the implementation is delayed and hampered.


As the just transition in Poland is gaining momentum, it turns out that in the debate on the future of the energy mix, we lack the most fundamental fuel. This absent element is none of the most frequently mentioned technologies – coal, gas, nuclear or RES – but data.


The importance of digitization of public services was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic – it turned out that many basic public services have been successfully digitised. Long-term investments in software and hardware technologies have paid off, but Poland is still at the beginning of this digital transformation.


Yet still, numerous public services remain paper-based or difficult to access for ordinary citizens. One of them is public statistics of the energy and hard coal mining sectors. Unfortunately, the debate about the future of energy mix in Poland is loaded with opinions or simple one-dimensional indicators, which do not meet scientific standards. Why? Public statistics from these sectors is not only generally inaccessible to the public, but hidden behind the paywall. The government and its two contractors responsible for data collection and publication Energy Market Agency (Agencja Rynku Energii S.A.) and Industrial Development Agency (Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu, Oddział w Katowicach) refuse to provide data on the basis of access to public sector information request.


The current model is fundamentally incompliant with the European Statistical Code and the fundamental premise of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package. According to Article 23 of EU Directive 2019/944, data should be made available in a ‘non-discriminatory manner’ and no ‘additional costs for access should be charged to final customers’.


Obtaining only the basic publications financed with taxpayers’ money from these institutions is burdened with costs up to several thousand Polish zloty, whereas annual costs of full coverage might reach up to several tens of thousands zloty (EURPLN ~4.4). The data format offered is mostly non-machine readable (PDF files). High costs of obtaining proper data vastly hamper multi-dimensional, in-depth analysis, including evaluation of public policy and reforms.


It is not unusual for public institutions, utilities and scientists to have great difficulties in accessing data on energy and mining sectors. This has a negative impact on the quality of their decisions and conclusions, based on presumptions and rumours instead of transparent studies conducted under scientific rigour.


Particularly now, when Poland faces the challenge of just transition, it is necessary to involve social partners, independent and dispersed investors and research institutions, think-tanks and non-governmental organisations in the process of shaping a modern and transparent energy system that serves us all. This goal can only be successfully achieved if we start with developing a strategy which relies on information symmetry. It requires equal, universal and free access to data and public statistics in particular.


The Polish government is well-equipped to achieve this. The Ministry of Digitization is working on the Public Data Opening Programme implemented jointly by other ministries. The data.gov.pl portal serves as an example for a necessary publishing standard and would be a perfect platform for publishing energy sector resources currently unknown to the public, in user-friendly formats and available free of charge. Many institutions, including the Energy Regulatory Office, have already started doing so.


The exceptionality of energy data undoubtedly requires learning from successful foreign projects. Good practices can be found across the network of electricity transmission operators (entsoe transparency portal), governments of the United Kingdom (Energy Data Taskforce) and Denmark (Energi Data Service) or research groups from Germany (Open Power System Data, Open Energy Platform).


The benefits of such platforms outweigh their financial and organisational costs. The positive effects of opening access and implementation of data publication standards are numerous: boosted entrepreneurship based on innovative business models, higher rank of research teams in European scientific community (e.g. Horizon 2020), higher quality of public policy and data-oriented education of specialists for the needs of the labor market.


Public statistics should neither be subject to copyright laws nor hidden behind the paywall. Once financed with taxpayers’ money, resources should be made available for free.


Therefore, Instrat recommends the following to the Polish government with regard to the energy & coal mining sectors:


(1) to open the access to existing statistical resources held by public administration,
(2) to conduct public consultation to examine the needs of users – traditional and independent investors, civil society and the research community,
(3) to develop a strategy for the publication of data from public and private resources according to the guidelines of the Open Data Directive – according to the public data management model,
(4) to establish a platform for the publication of statistical data in a user-friendly, free of charge and machine-readable format.


Instrat has already signaled the problem in Autumn 2019 in an op-ed published by portal WysokieNapiecie.pl. We have hence established free of charge platform energy.instrat.pl offering access to aggregated and visualised datasets which we hope to be just a beginning of the debate.


Team of Instrat Foundation, Research program Energy & environment – Michał Hetmański, Paweł Czyżak, Krzysztof Stępień


Co-signatories of the open letter – alphabetical order:


Tobiasz Adamczewski – Board member, WWF Polska

Barbara Adamska, ADM Poland

Rafał Bajczuk – Senior Policy Expert, Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (FPPE)

Maciej Bando – Doradztwo Gospodarcze – Strategie Energetyczne

Patryk Białas – President, Association BoMiasto

Krzysztof Bolesta – Vice-president, Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (FPPE)

Hanna Brauers – Researcher, CoalTransitions Research Hub, Technical University of Berlin

Robert Brückmann – Head of Policy Department, eclareon

Andrzej Ceglarz – Bavarian School of Public Policy, Technical University of Munich

Ryszard Cetnarski – Enercode

Michał Dorociak – 300RESEARCH

Anselm Eicke – Research Associate and PhD Candidate, Hertie School of Governance

Dr.Eng. Szymon Firląg – Faculty of Civil Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology

Gniewomir Flis – Aurora Energy Research

Radosław Gawlik – President, Ecological Association “EKO-UNIA”

Hanna Gill-Piątek – Member of the Polish Parliament

Dr.Eng. Paweł Gładysz

Albert Gryszczuk – President, National Chamber of Energy Clusters

Andrzej Guła – Leader, Polish Smog Alert

Prof. Dr. Lion Hirth – Assistant Professor of Governance of Digitalization and Energy Policy, Hertie School of Governance

Ludwig Hülk – Project Manager & Researcher, Reiner Lemoine Institute

Krzysztof Izdebski – Policy Director, ePaństwo Foundation

Ilona Jędrasik – Poland Energy Lead, ClientEarth

Hanns Koenig – Head of Commissioned Projects, Central Europe, Aurora Energy Research

Maciej Konieczny – Member of the Polish Parliament

Jarosław Kopeć – Data journalist, BIQdata, Gazeta Wyborcza

Marcin Korolec – President, Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (FPPE)

Krystian Kowalewski – Executive Director, Polish Committee of the World Energy Council

Bartłomiej Kozek – Polish Correspondent, Green European Journal

Agata Kuźmińska – President, Green Future Institute

Paweł Lachman – President of the board, Polish Association for Heat Pump Technology and Development (PORT PC)

Dr Zofia Łapniewska – Jagiellonian University

Dr Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera – President, Forum Energii

Natalia Mileszyk – Public policy specialist, Centrum Cyfrowe

Karol Mitraszewski

Charles Moore – Senior Energy & Policy Analyst, Ember

Robbie Morrison – Energy system modeler

Dr Pao-Yu Oei – Research Group Leader, CoalExit, Technical University of Berlin

Dr Adam Ostolski – Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw

Bartosz Paszcza – board member, expert on new technologies, Klub Jagielloński

Filip Piasecki – Senior Analyst, Aurora Energy Research

Mateusz Piotrowski – ‘Europe, a patient’ initiative

Marcin Popkiewicz – Journalist, Nauka o klimacie

Felix Reitz – Energy analyst, Europe Beyond Coal

Zofia Romanowska – board member, Young Leaders in Energy Association

Joanna Rycerz – board member, Young Leaders in Energy Association

dr Jakub Sawulski – Head of Macroeconomics Team, Polish Economic Institute

Dr Ingmar Schlecht – Policy Analyst, Neon Neue Energieökonomik & Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Basel

Christian Schnell – Solivan

Jakub Sokołowski – Economist, IBS – Institute for Structural Research

Anita Sowińska – Member of the Polish Parliament

Dr Agata Stasik – Kozminski University (ALK)

Kacper Stefaniak

Prof. dr. hab. Andrzej Szablewski – Director, Institute of Economics, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)

Aleksander Szpor – Head of climate & energy team, Polish Economic Institute

Dr Kacper Szulecki – Department of Political Science, University of Oslo & Environmental Studies and Policy Research Institute (ESPRi)

Paweł Szypulski – Director, Greenpeace Poland

Radosław Ślusarczyk – President, Association Workshop for All Beings

Dr Piotr Śpiewanowski – Assistant Professor, Institute of Economics, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)

Michał Tarka – Tarka Trupkiewicz & Partners

Dr Alek Tarkowski – President of the Board, Centrum Cyfrowe

Robert Tomaszewski – Senior Energy Analyst, Polityka Insight

Rafał Urzędowski

Tomasz Waśniewski – President of the Foundation, Foundation „Development YES – Open Pit Mines NO”

Lidia Wojtal – Climate & energy policy expert

Piotr Woźny – Social advisor to the Minister of Climate for Clean Air Priority Program implementation

Urszula Zielińska – Member of the Polish Parliament


Accessible as PDF under this link.



Legal opinion by Frank Bold Foundation:


Instrat has commenced the Frank Bold Foundation (Polish branch) to prepare an opinion on the legal aspects of acquisition and re-use of public statistics on the energy sector in Poland. The Ministry of Energy (and its predecessors) has been outsourcing preparation of publications and databases to the Energy Market Agency (Agencja Rynku Energii S.A., ARE) for the last 20 years. The legal opinion was prepared on the occasion of energy.instrat.pl establishment – first Polish open access energy & coal data hub.


Frank Bold. Legal opinion on the re-use of data from the public statistics of the energy sector in Poland. Role of the Agencja Rynku Energii S.A. Commenced by the Instrat Foundation.


(1) Agencja Rynku Energii S.A. (ARE, Energy Market Agency) under the Agreement of 1999 concluded between the ARE, the ministry in charge of the economy (ministry), the Energy Regulatory Office and the Central Statistical Office, based on the annually adopted Programme of Public Statistical Research as well as individual agreements between the ARE and the ministry carries out statistical research on the energy, gas and liquid fuels sector and markets.
(2) ARE is the contractor of commissioned statistical research – the results are published on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Although the procured task is paid from the ministry’s budget, ARE is entitled to charge for the use of the publications containing results of statistical surveys. ARE operates an online shop where publications, which creation is ordered by the ministry on a regular basis, can be purchased against payment (are behind a paywall).
(3) In accordance with the provisions of the act, public statistics shall guarantee equal, equivalent and simultaneous access to the resulting statistical information. Commercialisation of the resulting statistics is contrary to these requirements, which evokes doubts on the compliance with the current legal setting.
(4) The ARE publications and its individual elements, including the databases on which they are based, may be subject to specific regulations, in particular intellectual property rights or access to public information and public sector information.
(5) Public authorities should adopt the legal regime of the described process to the good practices and regulations in the areas of public statistics and open data introduced in the EU, i.e. to the European Statistical Code or Open Data Directive (Directive EU 2019/1024). The implementation of the later one may have an impact on the current limited availability of statistical information on the energy sector.


Jakubowski, M., Kluczka, K. (2020). Legal opinion on the re-use of data from the public statistics of the energy sector in Poland. Role of the Energy Market Agency (ARE). Frank Bold Foundation by the request of Instrat. www.instrat.pl/en/energy-instrat-open-letter

Available for download under this link.