Wind Wire: Renewables law

Wind project development in Slovakia is set to take off thanks to the introduction of a new renewable energy law, says Peter Stibrany, chairman of the Slovak Wind Energy Association.

"There are many projects that are already prepared and in the authorisation chain," he says, adding that the grid operator, Slovenska Elektrizacna Prenosova Sustava, was waiting for the law to be signed before authorising building permits. More than 15 companies, mostly backed by foreign firms, are planning projects in Slovakia, Stibrany says, with capital mainly coming from Austrian and German investors. "The appetite for wind energy in Slovakia may be up to 600 MW or even 1000 MW," adds Roman Prekop, a Bratislava-based partner with law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Prekop says a major impact of the new legislation is to group all renewables promotion measures into a single law, whereas previously they were spread across a number of different laws, making the policy framework "quite murky". Significantly, the new law assures priority grid access to renewable energy producers and sets a firm 15-year term for renewable energy power purchase contracts. Prices for electricity generated by renewables are set by the government, but previously were only guaranteed on a yearly basis. The 2009 price set for wind power is SK 2.55/MWh (EUR84.65/MWh). Prekop believes this will not change until 2010. Moreover, the legislation places limitations on support available to wind farms larger than 15 MW, he says. While the law has been approved, the government is preparing a decree to implement specific measures contained in it.