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Wind power in Poland: the prospects  

In recent years, renewable energy has been playing an increasingly important role in Poland and other countries. Its share in the total volume of electricity generated in the European Union has grown as a result of efforts to counteract global warming and increase the EU’s energy security.

This policy is reflected in the Polish government’s plans for the development of power generation based on renewable sources. By 2010 wind power is expected to account for 2.3 percent of the total volume of electricity consumed in Poland. This translates into around 2,000 MW of installed wind power capacity. These plans will have to be expanded after a new EU directive on promoting renewable energy comes into force. Under the draft directive, announced Jan. 23, the share of renewable energy in the total volume of electricity consumed by the EU (excluding energy sector) is to rise to 20 percent by 2020 from the present 8.5 percent. The EU target of 20 percent is expected to be broken down into targets for individual member states. Poland’s target is planned at 15 percent.

The EU sees Poland as a country with considerable biomass potential. The volume of electricity generated from biomass and wind power is expected to account for 53-55 percent and 28-31 percent of the total volume of renewable electricity produced in Poland respectively. In absolute figures, in order to meet its 15-percent target, Poland should produce up to 36 TWh of renewable energy annually, of which 18-20 TWh would come from biomass and 14-16 TWh from wind power.

The average annual wind speed in Poland is around 4 m/s, a mid-range level, but interest in wind power generation runs high. As of Feb. 15, Poland’s eight wind farms had a combined installed capacity of 269 MW, up from 180 MW at the end of 2006. At the same time, a further 81 wind farms with a total capacity of 3,722.6 MW have secured official clearance along with documents regulating the terms of their connection to the grid. Additionally, expert analyses for further 427 planned farms with a total capacity of 26,424 MW will be carried out.

These statistics show that there is potential for the development of wind power generation in Poland and that prospects for investors are encouraging. Both, private investors and power corporations, which are obligated to meet specific renewable electricity targets, are investing in generating facilities based on wind power. An additional incentive is the green certificate system, which considerably raises the price of renewable electricity for the producer. The price of green electricity is made up of two components: the price of electricity (around zl.119.70 per MWh in 2007) and the price of the related green certificate (around zl.240/MWh in 2007). According to the Economy Ministry, the system is to be maintained for a long time-by 2020 and beyond.

But there are many obstacles to the development of wind power generation. The most important one is that access to the grid is poor. Additionally, administrative procedures related to wind power generation are complicated, while the best sites in terms of wind conditions are located in areas with nature reserve status protected under the EU’s Natura 2000 environmental program, which occupy 18 percent of the country’s total area and where investors find it difficult to obtain construction permits.

Offshore farms are expected to become a new trend in wind power generation in Poland. Polska Grupa Energetyczna is considering building a wind farm of 100 turbines with a capacity of 3.6 MW or 5 MW each on the Baltic Sea 90 km off the Polish coast. This location would have a number of advantages as it would make it possible to avoid problems with local governments, in addition to offering better wind conditions (wind speeds of 9-9.5 m/s), more stable winds and greater turbine efficiency.

However, offshore projects cost much more than onshore ones. It is estimated that every 1 MW of capacity costs around zl.6 million if installed onshore and zl.11 million if installed offshore.

No regulations governing offshore projects are available for the time being. In particular, it is unclear how the operator can lease the site. But the Economy Ministry supports offshore projects. According to Zbigniew Kamie?ski, deputy director of the Energy Department, the ministry will “spare no effort” to remove all formal obstacles involved in such a pilot-study project.

Overall, wind power technology will continue to develop in Poland, although it is more expensive than most other power generation technologies. By 2020 Poland’s total installed wind power capacity may reach around 10,000 MW.

Funds available under the EU’s Infrastructure and Environment operational program may prove to be an additional incentive for investors. Around 350 million euros have been set aside under the program’s Measure 9.4 (Energy Generation From Renewable Sources) for projects related to electricity or heat generation from renewable sources. The maximum possible funding is capped at 20 percent of the total cost of a project. The development of wind power generation will also be supported indirectly by Measure 9.6 (Networks Facilitating the Reception of Energy From Renewable Sources) with EU funding set at 47 million euros, and Measure 10.3 (The Development of Industry for Renewable Energy Sources) with EU funding set at 27 million euros and the maximum level of funding capped at 30 percent of the project’s cost.

Lukasz Kowalski

Expert on Renewable Energy Sources, Institute for Fuels and Renewable Energy

The Warsaw Voice

2 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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