Poland is the biggest wind energy market in the EU’s newer Member States, but wobbles in government support have made investors nervous. We spoke to Ewa Kurdy?a, Director of the Polish Wind Energy Association, to find out what’s going on…

 Poland’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan indicates that cumulative wind capacity should increase by an average of 500 MW per year to reach 6,650 MW in 2020 – do you think this will happen?

Despite significant growth of the wind energy sector in the recent years it may be very difficult to meet our targets – in particular for 2020. This is caused by the lack of regulations enabling a stable development of the sector. In recent months the mood among the investors has been very bad. However, we mustn’t forget that the true market potential of wind energy in Poland by 2020 is approximately 11.5 GW onshore and 1.5 GW offshore, according to the independent Renewable Energy Institute.

These figures are much higher than those in the Polish National Renewable Energy Action Plan. Therefore, I think that in the long term the industry may substantially increase its share in the national energy mix. This is primarily due to technological development. The climate of political will, which today determines the development of renewables, may also be of key importance.

What are the biggest barriers to the development of wind energy in Poland?

The lack of transparent long term regulations is the major barrier to the quick development of new investments. At the moment, work is in progress on restructuring a legal framework applicable to the support of renewable energy sources.

How supportive is the Polish government to wind power? Have there been significant changes to support schemes recently?

The currently existing renewable energy support scheme was regulated in the Energy Law Act and its implementing acts. Investors do not conceal their anxiety about government plans to stop the development of the sector. The proposed support scheme in practice entails a total halt to investments. We appeal to the government to maintain a green light for the Polish energy sector.

What is the potential for offshore wind energy?

By 2020 the Polish Baltic should feature 1.5 GW of offshore wind farms. However, the offshore energy potential of the Polish Baltic is estimated at approximately 20 GW, even taking all constraints – economy, environment, military, navigation, fishing, etc. – into account. This is almost 10 times more than the installed capacity of all onshore wind farms currently operating in Poland. Furthermore, technological progress in the industry is astonishing – currently marketed turbines such as the Vestas V164 have a capacity of 8 MW! In practice the potential may prove to be much higher.

Of course, at least several years have to pass before the first offshore wind farm is built in the Polish Baltic. First it is necessary to streamline Polish law, including maritime and environmental regulations.

Your annual event is soon to take place, what do you think the biggest discussion topics will be?

The PWEA Conference is the largest event in the Polish wind power sector. Participants at the conference will learn about the current market situation, acquire information about the latest trends and listen to the latest growth forecasts for the wind power sector in Poland, Europe and worldwide. The event is an opportunity to learn many urgent legal, technological or financial issues. Every year the thematic sessions are run by eminent experts from the wind power industry.

The PWEA Conference is also a meeting place for key market players, giving an opportunity to establish many important, strategic business contacts. The Conference is attended by representatives of companies from all around Europe, including developers, investors, component manufacturers or representatives of the energy distribution sector as well as representatives of industry associations. Furthermore, the PWEA Conference is a unique opportunity to meet representatives of the state administration responsible for the regulation and development of the wind energy market in Poland.