Poland takes its foot off the onshore brake

The Polish government plans to unveil a new amendment to a damaging setback rule that has hindered onshore wind development before the end of the year, development minister Jadwiga Emilewicz announced after rappelling down from a turbine in central Poland.

Polish development minister Jadwiga Emilewicz rappelling down from a GE turbine at Wpd's Jarocin Koźmin wind farm
Polish development minister Jadwiga Emilewicz rappelling down from a GE turbine at Wpd's Jarocin Koźmin wind farm

Currently, wind farms in Poland must be located at least ten times the height of the turbines – often 1,500-2,000 metres  – from buildings and protected areas. In practice, this excludes 99% of Polish territory from onshore wind development, the Polish Wind Energy Association (PSEW) claimed.

Implementation of this rule in 2016 has seen project planning slow significantly, according to the PSEW.

But last year, the Polish government announced plans to soften these distance rules where there is “social acceptance” of wind turbines.

Now, development minister Emilewicz has said these plans are due to be published before the end of 2020.

At a press conference at Wpd’s 42.5MW Jarocin Koźmin Jarocin Koźmin (42.5MW) OnshoreGreater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, Europe Click to see full details wind farm in Greater Poland voivodeship, Emilewicz said that the government wanted to consult on draft regulations to reduce the setback distance in local spatial development plans – but the so-called ‘10H rule’ would remain at national level.

The opt-out mechanism appears to be similar to a recent amendment in Germany, whereby individual states will have the final say on whether they want to adhere to the nationwide setback rule of 1,000 metres from the nearest dwelling.

The 2016 implementation of the 10H rule abruptly halted 4.1GW of planned onshore wind capacity, according to PSEW – including 3.4GW of projects that had already signed connection agreements.

With these projects unable to proceed, and developers deterred from planning new wind farms, the Polish onshore wind industry soon faces “stagnation”, PSEW warned.

Following the wind power tenders in 2018 and 2019, there is only about 1.2GW of already-permitted onshore wind farms that could compete in future rounds, according to PSEW president Janusz Gajowiecki. 

However, due to the 10H rule, “no one is currently preparing new projects”, the PSEW added.

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