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Bill raises wind farm operation costs in Poland, lifts turbine distance rule

Poland installed 1.27 GW of new turbines in 2015, making it the second largest wind power market in Europe last year, but the start of 2016 brought new challenges for wind investments in the country.

A proposal for obligatory permit renewal for new and existing wind farm operators every two years has been submitted in late February by the right-wing Law and Justice Party. The cost of securing new permits from the Office of Technical Inspection will raise markedly the costs for the lifetime operation of wind farms.

As part of the plan, existing wind farms will have to obtain a new permit within a year of the Act’s entry into force. Poland had 5,100 MW of wind power capacity at end-2015, according to figures by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The bill by the Law and Justice Party also envisages a minimum distance from homes equal to at least 10 times the height of a wind turbine. That plan comes several weeks after Poland’s ombudsman said it had “received more and more letters from citizens complaining about a deterioration of their health due to the wind turbines’ influence, as well as about the wind farm locating and building procedures”. The Commissioner for Human Rights (CHR) has contacted the environment, health and infrastructure ministers to discuss that topic, according to a statement at the start of February.

A rush to complete wind projects before Poland moves to an auction-based support mechanism for renewables resulted in 1,266 MW of new capacity, shows a report by GWEC. That compares to 2014 installations of 444 MW.

Poland reached an 11.4% renewables share in gross final energy consumption at the end of 2014. It aims at 15% by 2020.