Foreign investors flood into certificates market -- Poland heads for 2 GW by 2010

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Poland added about 128 MW of wind power in 2007 to bring its total wind capacity to around 280 MW. That represents the tip of the iceberg of what appears to be coming down the line. The country is attracting investor interest from far and wide, with Spanish, German, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Swiss and Japanese companies all listed as paid up members of Poland's wind power association. Even ExxonMobil appears among them. If all the publicised project completions for this year come good, the country will see at least another 760 MW come online.

The right mix of market conditions coupled with a good wind resource and growing demand for electricity is proving to be a potent attraction. The government aim is for 2 GW of wind capacity by 2010.

"The political framework offers security of planning. The payment rate is at the German level with the small but important difference that more wind blows in Poland than in Germany," says German developer Windkraft Nord (WKN). With local Polish partner AOS, WKN founded a joint venture named Sevivon at the start of the year. Sevivon expects to install 300 MW in northern Poland by 2013, of which 45-120 MW should be turning by the end of 2010, it says.

The Polish renewables law requires electricity retailers to source a rising proportion of their sales from green energy. This year, retailers must acquire green power certificates to demonstrate they have met 7% of their sales from renewables, up from 5.1% in 2007. The percentage rises to 8.7% in 2009, and to 10.4% in 2010 to 2014. Poland's consumption of electricity in 2006 was 149 TWh.

The rush this year

Projects building include a 48 MW wind farm made up of 2 MW turbines being developed by a Japanese-Swiss joint venture founded a year ago between J-Power, Mitsui, and Swiss WFL Windfarmer. It is due for commissioning in July. Also under construction is an 18 MW project by Iberdrola Energia Odnawialna using GE 1.5 MW turbines.

Further construction during the year includes a 47.5 MW project by Germany's E.ON Energy Projects. GE says it is supplying E.ON with 19 of its 2.5 MW machines for installation in December. Polish company Eurowind says its 48 MW Grochowo project will be completed this year along with its 260 MW Kozielice I Banie station. In a fourth big project, global investment firm Good Energies has said it will install 48 GE 2.5 MW turbines at a 120 MW wind station in the Slupsk-Ustika region by late 2008 at a total project cost of about EUR 175 million. The wind association also reports a further unidentified 42 MW construction site.

From the manufacturing side, Nordex reports that it was contracted by project developer Megawatt Baltika last month to supply 20 of its 2.5 MW turbines for the Tychowo wind farm on the Polish coast. This will be the second of four wind stations being installed by Nordex for Polish customers this year. The first will be four 2.5 MW machines at Lebcz, near Gdansk, for Wiatrowa Lebcz. The third will be nine 2.3 MW machines (20.7 MW) at Barzowice for an undisclosed customer and the fourth will involve three 1.5 MW machines also for Megawatt Baltika. "Looking forward into the medium term, we plan to install an annual capacity of 100 MW in this market," says Nordex's Carsten Pedersen.

Further ahead

A development wave beyond this year is building. Another Japanese venture, Green Power Polska, a subsidiary of Japanese company Green Power Investment group, reportedly plans to build a 104 turbine development using 2.3 MW machines to be commissioned in 2009.

German energy major RWE Power says it will build two large wind farms in co-operation with Polish Energy Partners SA with a combined capacity of 70 MW and using 2 MW turbines. The two projects are being built at Tychowo (32 MW) in West Pomerania and at Suwalki (38 MW) in Masuria, with commissioning scheduled for 2009/2010. The investment was put at around EUR 100 million. As a result, RWE Stoen, described by RWE as one of the major energy suppliers in Poland, will be in a position to largely meet its renewables obligation.

Luxembourg-based Green Bear, majority-owned by Orco Holding, also has ambitious plans in Poland. Purchase of a 10.8 MW wind station from Eurowind late last year for reportedly over EUR 16 million gave it a foot in the door. It is developing 242 MW of wind projects for installation in 2009/2010 at a cost of EUR 360 million, a further 258 MW in 2010 for EUR 375 million and another 768 MW in the 2010-2012 period for EUR 1.15 billion. Green Bear claimed in September that "within a few months, we have become market leader with a 50% share of wind projects in Poland." It says that 1268 MW out of the 2500 MW total is expected online by 2014. Assuming that 85% of its EUR 1.9 billion investment in the first 1268 MW is debt, the company's equity input will be about EUR 283 million.

Portugal's national utility, Energias de Portugal (EDP), is also participating in the Poland wind jamboree. In December, subsidiary Nuevas Energias del Occidente bought a 1022 MW portfolio of wind projects in various stages of development dubbed Relay Wind Parks for EUR 54 million plus an additional fee of EUR 40,000/MW for successful installation. The first 120 MW is expected to be operational in 2009, the rest between 2010 and 2013. EDP presumes more rapid Polish wind development than foreseen by Green Bear, saying it expects 4 GW to be generating power in 2014.

Grid connection bottlenecks in Poland could slow progress. In December the wind association reported that transmission owner Energa-Operator had signed 29 contracts for connection of about 1300 MW of wind projects by the end of 2011. Binding connection agreements were being prepared for another 1100 MW in 56 wind stations and agreements for another 1300 MW were underway, it said.

Of the 280 MW turning so far, about 240 MW is in ten commercial wind stations ranging in size from 3 MW to 40.5 MW. The largest, developed by Iberdrola Energia Odnawialna and using 27 GE Energy 1.5 MW turbines, was commissioned at Kisielice last June.

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