Polish wind energy market – wind power in Poland exceeded the level of 1GW

The first three quarters of 2010 turned out to be record high for the wind power sector in Poland. The growth of wind farm plants in the period was as high as 51% y-o-y and in the whole 2010 may reach 75%, according to the 2010 Wind Energy in Poland report presented by the consulting firm TPA Horwath, law firm Domañski Zakrzewski Palinka and the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency.

Production capacity of the wind farms in Poland exceeded the level of 1GW. Experts say, however, there is still room for wind turbines development as Poland, despite similar natural conditions, has 25 times less wind installations than neighbouring Germany.

The first professional wind farms started to be located in Poland just a few years ago. Today the sector has been experiencing a dynamic development and its significance for the power industry has been on the rise. Now Poland hosts serious investment projects e.g. construction of a 240MG strong wind farm in Margonin (the region of Wielkopolska). Projects of this kind will help exceed the current amount of generated energy which as of the end of September amounted to 1 096MW – generated by the total of 378 licensed farms. Among key players opening their wind farms in Poland there are: EPA, RWE, Dong, PGE, Iberdrola, Mitsui, J-Power, PEP,EEZ Vattenfall, RP and RP Global.

The latest report on wind energy indicates that last year saw a number of positive investor-oriented changes which effectively streamline the investment preparation process in the field. Amendments to the Energy Law that have came into effect this year introduced material changes with regard to the acquisition of the power grid connection terms by wind farms. Although the wind energy market still seems to be a kind of steeplechase for investors, the sector has been expanding, it is noted in the report.

In the coming years several hundred new farms a year are to be installed in Poland. This, however, does not mean that Poland, like many other countries, has not been experiencing a growing criticism of wind farms. That is why effective promotion and a public dialogue concerning the sector should be competently managed by private players, sectoral organisations and politicians, it is underscored in the report.

The investment climate in Poland in 2009 was favourable, particularly in comparison to other European countries. Not only did the economy not give in to the crisis but it also developed at the highest pace in Europe, and Polish enterprises were able to improve the effectiveness of their business operations. The favourable investment prospects are confirmed by the fact that Poland was among the world’s top 12 most attractive direct foreign investment destinations according to the UNCTAD ranking.

Even though the first professional wind farm projects were only developed in Poland a few years ago, at present the wind energy sector is undergoing dynamic changes and beginning to play an increasingly important role. Undoubtedly, in the coming years Poland has a real chance to become one of the leading users of that form of renewable energy in Europe.

At the end of 2009 the wind power station capacities amounted to 725 MW. At the end of September 2010 the capacity already reached 1,096 MW. Having exceeded the symbolic threshold of 1 GW, the wind energy took the lead as an alternative energy source in Poland. The region that dominates with regard to generating capacity is zachodniopomorskie province.

In consideration of several dozen percent high dynamics of installed capacity growth in wind farms, Poland is currently making up for its historical backwardness and already getting ahead of a number of European countries. In the favourable environmental conditions, the growing number of issued permits and projects under execution ensure high pace of market development during the coming years.

In turn, combined capacity installed in wind sources throughout Europe by the end of 2009 reached 76,152 MW. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) estimated the value of investment in wind farms in 2009 at 13 billion EUR, which corresponded to a 16% increase in capacity as compared to the previous year. For comparison purposes, the total capacity of wind farms operating worldwide amounts to 159 GW.

Poland witnesses implementation of increasingly largescale wind turbines projects, such as for example the 240 MW wind farm in Margonin in Wielkopolska. The capacity growth rate in 2009 as compared to previous year was 33%, and during the first three quarters of 2010 the capacity increased by as much as 51% in relation to the entire 2009. However, the high increase in the percentage data is still attributable to the low level of market development in absolute numbers.

In Germany, a country characterised by geographic and environmental conditions similar to Poland, the potential of wind energy sources is 25 times higher than in Poland.

The wind power market offers jobs, not only related to wind farm installation and service. The sector also offers employment for component manufacturers, design firms or companies that analyse investment processes. In Poland, new jobs were created for example in relation to manufacturing of towers for wind turbines by Gdañsk Shipyard. More and more companies and business units also begin to conduct research & development operations related to renewable energy.