Poland’s economy ministry on Friday proposed scaling back support for generating renewable energy using biomass and onshore wind in favour of solar power and offshore wind as ways of reducing the country’s heavy dependence on coal.
A draft bill released by the ministry also reduced overall state support for renewable energy sources between 2013 and 2020 by around 9.7 billion zlotys ($2.9 billion)to 54.5 billion zlotys.
Two previous versions of the bill had to be rewritten after angry responses from local utilities that invested millions in burning biomass, and from the wind power industry, which feared it could go bust with lower state support.
But the Polish Association of Wind Energy said the latest version was a positive step. “Although some areas need to be improved, there is no doubt that the wind energy sector can look calmly into the future,” it said in a statement.
Poland generates around 90 percent of its electricity from coal. To meet European Union regulations on carbon emissions, the former Soviet-bloc nation has to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 15 percent by 2020.
The renewable energy drive has to date focused on onshore wind farms and burning biomass, which essentially involves mixing wood and other plant material in with the coal before it is burnt in coal-fired power stations.
Unveiling the new draft bill, which officials hope will come into force in January 2013, Deputy Economy Minister Miroslaw Kasprzak said biomass was not economically viable.
“We’re cutting support for biomass … Importing biomass costs us 1 billion zlotys annually,” Kasprzak told a news conference. “We can’t work that way.”
Poland’s consumption of biomass in coal-fired power stations shot up from 1.7 million tonnes in 2006 to 5.1 million tonnes last year.
Economy ministry officials also said that support up to now has favoured onshore wind too heavily, and that the system would therefore be tweaked to achieve a better balance of energy sources.
Figures released by the ministry on proposed future levels of support showed that aid for biomass and onshore wind would be less than now, while offshore wind and photovoltaic solar power generation are to receive more help.
The draft bill must go through a period of consultation by other government ministries and industry groups before it can move on to parliament for adoption.
($1 = 3.3636 Polish zlotys) (Reporting by Maciej Onoszko; editing by Keiron Henderson)
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