Poland to soften setback restrictions - updated

The Polish government plans to amend a setback rule that has hindered onshore wind development and auction 2.5GW of capacity this year, its deputy energy minister said.

Deputy energy minister Tomasz Dąbrowski announced the impending amendment in Poland’s lower house, the Sejm (pic: Wikimedia Commons)
Deputy energy minister Tomasz Dąbrowski announced the impending amendment in Poland’s lower house, the Sejm (pic: Wikimedia Commons)

Tomasz Dabrowski told the Polish lower house, the Sejm, about the government’s plans to soften distance rules for onshore wind turbines in cases where "municipalities where there is social acceptance", according to Polish daily newspaper, the Parkiet.

Currently, wind farms in Poland must be located at least ten times the height of the turbines from nearby communities.

In practice, this excludes 99% of Polish territory from onshore wind development, the Polish Wind Energy Association (PSEW) claimed.

It is as yet unclear precisely how this rule would be amended and when the tenders would take place. 

PSEW is unsure of precisely how the distance rule will be softened, a spokeswoman told Windpower Monthly.

One possibility could be enabling local authorities to change distance provisions in zoning plans or to create them if no such plan exists. They could set a different distance or different criteria for wind farms to satisfy, its president Janusz Gajowiecki suggested

Along with real estate taxes levied on entire turbines, the setback rule brought onshore wind development to a halt, PSEW argued. The rule was introduced by the governing Law & Justice party (PiS) in 2016.

Year Installed capacity
2015 1,266MW
2016 682MW
2017 41MW
2018 15.7MW

Annual installations in Poland have been on a steep decline since then, falling from 1,266MW in 2015, to just 15.7MW last year, the association’s figures showed.

However, an update to Poland’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (RES Act) in July 2018 gave cause for optimism, PSEW said.

The amendment paved the way for auctions to take place and stipulated that tax would be paid on towers and foundations, rather than the entire turbine, but did not remove the setback rule.

Following Dabrowski’s announcement in the Sejm at the end of January, PSEW president Janusz Gajowiecki said: "Softening the distance restrictions for wind farms is a step in a good direction.

"The municipalities and local communities being the direct beneficiaries of revenues, for instance from taxes paid by investors, should be able to decide whether they want to have such an installation in their neighbourhood."

Dabrowski added auctions for 2.5GW of wind and 700MW of solar PV would help Poland towards an as-yet unspecified renewable energy obligation for 2030.

It must publish a National Energy and Climate Plan to 2030 by the end of the year, setting out climate and energy objectives, targets, policies and measures.

However, Poland is due to fall short of its goal of clean energy providing 15% of final energy consumption by 2020, Dabrowski conceded, according to the Parkiet.

It would therefore rely on "statistical transfer", whereby it purchases renewable energy abroad, to meet this target.

PSEW told Windpower Monthly that further amendments to Poland’s RES Act are due in the first quarter of 2019.

It does not know whether this amendment will include a softening of the distance rule.

However, it does expect a timetable for clean energy auctions to be detailed before the end of March. PSEW expects the full 2.5GW to be awarded in one allocation n the first half of 2019.

"There is an investment gap in the Polish renewables sector, so the sooner and bigger auctions for ready-to-build projects are, the smaller the gap for the renewables target for 2020," Gajowiecki added.

In November, Poland held an onshore wind auction in which prices ranged between PLN 157.80/MWh (€36.53/MWh) and PLN 216.99/MWh (€50.23/MWh). The auction supervisor did not confirm how much capacity was awarded.

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