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Wind farms planned for Poland’s lake district

Around 800 high-powered wind turbines are billed for construction in Poland’s Masurian lake district amid glee from local councils, yet anxiety from ecologists.

While Poland’s western Baltic coastal regions already host a number of wind farms, a number of specialist companies have now turned their attention to the north-eastern Masurian lake district.

According to the Institute for Renewable Energy, investors are planning to sink almost 6 billion zloty (1.5 billion euro) into wind farms in the Warmian-Masurian province alone, creating an additional 1000 MW to the national energy grid.

Economic boon for local councils

The local council in Ketrzyn, the site of 35 such wind turbines, is expected to rake in 2 million zloty (500,000 euro) from property taxes from the wind farm, amounting to around a third of the council’s budget.

“Thanks to [the income], we will be able to undertake many infrastructure investments,” Roman Rosicki from Ketrzyn town council told the Rzeczpospolita daily.

The largest wind farms are billed for construction in Goldap, near the border with Lithuania, Piecki, as well as in the environs of Olsztyn, in Gorowo and Korsze.

“The construction of wind farms in Poland is a necessity,” Mieczyslaw Koch from the Association of Renewable Energy told the daily, adding that “every time the European Commission lowers Poland’s limits on CO2 emissions, the cost of energy will rise drastically. That is why we have to find alternatives to coal-fired power plants.”

Ecologists not so keen

Meanwhile, ecologists and residents alike are protesting against the wind farms’ construction.

According to Rafal Kubalski from the Sadyba Association, wind farms cause noise, are a potential threat to birds, and disrupt the landscape.

“There should only be the construction of smaller turbines for the use of farmsteads,” Kubalski maintains, adding that “larger wind farms should be constructed on industrial and degraded sites.”

The first wind turbine was built in Poland in 1991, yet larger wind farms started to appear from 2000 onwards. Currently, 378 wind farms create around 1000 MW of energy. By comparison, wind farms in Germany generate around 26,000 MW of electricity.

According to a ruling of the EU, by 2020 Poland has to make 15 percent of its energy production derive from renewable sources.