The European wind industry will descend on Warsaw today to make the economic arguments for wind power in a market that faces increasing uncertainty.
The Wind Power Poland 2016 event is organised by the Polish Wind Energy Association and is supported by EWEA. GE and Vestas are headlining as the two event ambassadors.
Poland’s wind market was one of the strongest performers last year – second only to Germany – installing a total of 1.3GW in new capacity as developers pushed forward on projects. To date, the wind industry in Poland supports over 8,000 jobs and generates 600 million zloty in revenue each year.
Giles Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to reinforce the merits of wind technology in a market with huge potential for jobs, growth and industry. Poland is emerging as a leader for wind power in Europe. However, we cannot ignore the growing uncertainty the market is facing on the regulatory front.”
EWEA is concerned by proposals from the Polish Law & Justice ruling party to restrict the siting of new wind turbines and impose stringent permitting procedures in a new draft law. The draft legislation suggests that the minimum distance between households, buildings or nature reserves should be at least ten times the total height of a wind turbine.
The average height of a wind turbine – from base to blade tip – is between 140-160 meters. This would mean that most modern wind turbines would need to be located at least 1.5km away from any residential zone or protected natural area.
Dickson said: “This is a clear statement of intent from the governing party in Poland. The draft law proposed is deeply troubling. It will tie new projects up in red tape and make life hard for existing wind turbines that do not meet the legal demands.”
Other measures in the draft law include a long and drawn-out permitting process. If granted, new permits would last only two years before requiring renewal. Any planned repairs or maintenance would also require consent. In addition, the developer would be liable to pay service fees to the technical authorities, according to the draft law. Non-compliance with any of these processes could result in a hefty fine or even imprisonment of up to two years.
Dickson added: “The law has set out a lengthy and expensive permitting procedure that would hinder the development of projects in Poland and effectively deem new projects unviable. Imposing these rules will damage investor confidence and put the brakes on future deployment in a country with huge potential. As the wind industry, we will be highlighting the economic and societal benefits that wind energy can offer through jobs, growth and revenue. Poland’s success in recent years in making itself the leading manufacturing hub for the foundations of offshore wind turbines – despite not yet having its own offshore wind farms – shows the industrial and technology potential wind has in the country.”
Comments from Wind Power Poland 2016 Event Ambassadors:
Klaus Steen Mortensen, President of Vestas Northern Europe: “Policy makers should signal their commitment to a sector which delivered investments worth PLN 32 billion, and contributing significantly to a sustainable long-term Polish energy system. We are concerned with the proposal on wind investments but we are ready to take the dialogue. Let’s look at what they have done in other countries. In Denmark for example, the rule is about 4 times tip height and the population density is even a bit higher in Denmark than in Poland.”
Cliff Harris, General Manager at GE Renewable Energy EMEA: “Indeed, Poland was the second among the EU markets in wind installs with 1.2GW of additional capacity. However, to continue this momentum, the investors in the energy sector need policy certainty and long-term goals and a stable regulatory framework to allow investments. Properly designed, Polish energy policy will resolve the energy trilemma by driving security of supplies, emissions reduction and eliminating energy poverty. We need those kind of signals.”
On Poland’s draft law: “We have seen similar regulation elsewhere in Europe, and it obviously adversely affecting existing projects by eliminating wind growth and increasing cost of wind development. We, as OEMs together with the entire industry are working on addressing the concerns of policy makers with respect to WTG distances from residencies, and we are using best practice from other EU markets in addressing the concerns. There should be a dialogue between the policy makers and the industry on this topic.”