Lack of penalties stymies green power market -- End of year boost in Poland

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Poland's wind sector suffered a depressing first 11 months of 2002. Only two second-hand 300 kW WindMaster turbines, which joined an existing 600 kW turbine near Wizajny in north-east Poland, were installed. Danish energy company Elsam saved the day, however, by getting a 30 MW plant of Vestas 2 MW machines up and running near Stettin just before Christmas, bringing Poland's total wind capacity at the end of the year to 58.4 MW, provided by 55 turbines.

But wind development in Poland has again come to a halt as the industry awaits details of the Polish government's renewables development program, which aims to increase the share of renewables in the country's primary energy supply to 7.5% by 2010 and 14% by 2020. Although wind power is likely to feature, industry commentators have expressed fears that the program will not go far enough in providing the right incentives to encourage development. As a result of this uncertainty, several wind developers are biding their time in the hope that more favourable market conditions may materialise.

Katarzyna Michalowska-Knap of the Polish renewables association, EC BREC, understands companies' trepidation. The biggest problem for potential investors in Poland, she says, is that while prices for green electricity are freely negotiable between producer and utility, a number of utilities are not being penalised for failing to meet Poland's green power mandate from December 2000.

Biding their time

Meantime, German developer Plambeck Neue Energien has postponed plans for projects with a combined capacity of up to 100 MW (for which it had secured approval back in 2001). These include two plants near the Baltic coast, put on hold since March 2002, that the company was developing in a EUR 55 million joint venture with local firm Salomon Industries. "We are very sceptical about the Polish wind situation," says Plambeck's Rainer Heinsohn. "There is no renewable energy legislation and thus no economic framework to justify investments at the moment." But Plambeck is, "observing the Polish market carefully," Heinsohn adds.

WPD of Husum, which had announced plans for Polish projects back in 2001, has also postponed activities and is "keeping a watchful eye on the Polish market." P&T of Hamburg has remained silent on its Polish activities and a 6 MW plant announced by WindSolar of Darmstadt at the end of 2001 has still failed to materialise.

Some sections of the wind industry still see light on the horizon, however. The postponement of plans by developers has not deterred Danish blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber from pushing ahead with plans to open a factory near Szczecin (Stettin). Construction will begin shortly.

The 30 MW Vestas project installed at the end of 2002 was developed by Elsam's Polish subsidiary, Wolin North Spólka, together with EPA, a wind development company based in Stettin. The Danish government contributed a DKK 36.5 million grant (EUR 4.9 million) to the total EUR 33.66 million project cost as part of its drive to help Denmark meet its CO2 emissions reduction target under the Kyoto protocol.

Several Polish companies were involved in building the plant, including Smulders Steel Construction, Mak Dom and Siemens Poland. The plant is being operated by Elsamprojekt Polska while the electricity is being sold to a consortium of Polish electricity distributors comprising Energetyka Poznanska, Zaklad Energetyczny Gorzów, Zaklad Energetyczny Lodz Teren, Energetyka Szczecinska and Lodzki Zaklad Energetyczny.

Of the remaining 28 MW (40 turbines) turning in Poland, most are Vestas units, including an 18 MW plant of 2 MW machines installed last year. Lagerwey has a single unit in operation there, as does Nordex, while GE Wind has two turbines at Swarzewo near Puck.

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