Poland government in wind policy clash

POLAND: The economy ministry has clashed with the country's wind industry after the government's penchant for biomass development has led it to establish a much lower target than that demanded by the sector.

Poland's Institute for Renewable Energy has criticised government plans
Poland's Institute for Renewable Energy has criticised government plans

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The Polish Ministry of Economy has proposed that the country develops up to 6.1GW by 2020. But the wind associations say that the goal should be 13GW.

The ministry, which has just unveiled its national action plan to meet EU climate commitments, prefers development of wide-scale biomass combustion, biofuels and nuclear instead.

The plan predicts that Poland needs 30.5GWh of renewable electricity by 2020.

Wind capacity will grow from 950MW to 6.1GW and will produce 13.5GWh of electricity while biomass combustion, the wind stations' main competitor for green certificates support, will produce 10.4GWh.

The plan does not envisage any offshore wind stations construction until 2020.

While it may seem that the ministry has set a relatively high target of generating 19% of electricity from renewables compared to 6% now, renewable electricity consumption does not play a major role in the action plan.

This is due to the fact that Poland needs a large amount of energy for heating and transport. Electricity will account for just 2.6 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) out of 10.8Mtoe of total renewable energy use in 2020, while the green heating and cooling will amount to 6.1Mtoe - 2.3 times more. Renewable transport fuels will use 2Mtoe.

The plan has attracted widespread criticism within the wind industry.

"The moderate role played by wind power - inadequate to its potential - and abandonment of offshore wind energy plans astonished me," Grzegorz Wisniewski, president of the Warsaw-based Institute for Renewable Energy, says.

"Wind energy in Poland is definitely the cheapest renewable electricity source."

According to Wisniewski, who is the author of the report Vision of wind energy development until 2020, Poland has the potential for 13GW of wind capacity by 2020.

"It is possible and economically justified on condition that the government actively supports investment in new grid capacity and introduces the obligatory electricity balancing system," he says.

"Unfortunately, the ministry's plan does not contain any such actions, hence makes it impossible to reach the 13GW by 2020."

And Bogdan Gutkowski, the president of Gdansk based Polish Wind Energy Society, also casts aspersions on the plan.

"Poland has huge potential for offshore wind energy," he says. "The southern Baltic coast is considered to be one of the Europe's best locations for this industry.

The ministry's draft shows the complete lack of understanding of the offshore wind sector needs, because it contains no concrete investments in marine grid capacity."

Meanwhile, the Polish Wind Industry Association (PWIA) criticised the plan for its dependence on biomass. The move was not entirely unexpected.

Waldemar Pawlak, deputy prime minister and economy minister, is also a leader of Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, a political party representing interests of farmers.

Last year his ministry tried to introduce a directive that would allow the burning of grain to be included in a green certificates support scheme, but the ministry failed to do so after formal protests by the wind industry.

The action plan was due to be presented to the European Commission by June 30.

The ministry, which revealed the proposal on May 25, left only two weeks for public consultation. Wind industry officials remain unhappy that there is no chance to amend it.

The PWIA has asked that the ministry withdraw the document and redraft it. The ministry has so far declined to comment on the proposal.

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