Poland passes bill that threatens to curb wind power development

By bne IntelliNews May 22, 2016

The Polish parliament passed a bill on May 20 that will curb the development of wind power installations. The government says renewable energy from wind and sun is too unreliable to ensure energy security.

The law will grossly limit the number of possible locations to build wind power parks, stipulating no turbine can be located closer to housing than 10 times its total height. That will severly curtail the possibilities for placing new facilities.

Modern turbines are often well over 100-meters high, so they will need to be built in excess of one kilometre from the nearest housing. That is a condition that will be difficult to meet in a country fairly densely populated. The most attractive areas for wind power, such as northern parts of the country close to the Baltic sea, are also popular residence areas.

According to wind power industry lobby and environmental organisations, the new rules will effectively halt development of installations. The wind segment is by far the most developed renewable energy segment in Poland.

The PiS government, however, has made it clear on a number of occasions that it considers renewables – especially wind and solar – to be unreliable and costly, and would rather bet on coal. PiS is also sceptical of international efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate warming.

The ruling party has recently pushed state-controlled utilities to invest in a new state coal-mining group PGG, while some of the country’s largest energy investments are coal-fired power plants. On top of those efforts, a separate bill setting subsidies for the renewable energy sector is going through the parliament, with provisions to boost installations co-firing biomass with coal.

Poland has a EU-imposed target of reaching 15% of energy from renewable sources in final energy consumption by 2020. The country was at about 11.45% in 2015, which was a growth of just 0.15pp against 2014, increasing concerns the target will not be met.

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