“It seems everything has been said about the bill on renewables and yet the topic is still high on the agenda because the situation is dynamic (currently the MP’s express amendment is waiting for the President’s veto or signature). The act on investments in wind power plants, which turned one on 16 July is in a similar position. It’s a good moment to sum things up, to understand how the current regulations are impacting investments and development of the largest branch of the renewable energy sector in Poland,” Michał Kaczerowski, CEO of Ambiens Ltd., writes.
New wind turbines (increase of installed capacity in Poland)
Since 2005 (even though first wind turbines were installed in Poland a few years earlier) we have been witnessing a stable growth of the sector. Every year a few hundred new MW of capacity were added to the system… until 2016. Since the second half of 2016 new investments have virtually disappeared (only 5.82 MW in the first half of 2017), which is visualized by the flat line representing the total installed capacity on the graph. This has never happened before. Undoubtedly this is correlated with the l0H restrictions on location introduced by the Proximity act and the lack of a support system (end of green certificates and no auctions for wind energy).
Situation in the EU
Recently the division into two-speed Europe has become increasingly more visible. After a very dynamic period in 2015 and beginning of 2016 when the projects that utilized green certificates were beginning to appear (last big wind farm was the second phase of the Banie/Kozielice project), Poland is rapidly becoming one of those states which are characterized by the lack of new wind turbines in 2017.
Germany is strengthening its position as a leader of wind capacity and only in the first half of 2017 added as much has 2.9 GW (out of which 2.3 GW is onshore wind energy). Next on the list are Great Britain and France. Poland is last among the countries that are adding new capacities. It is telling that half of the Member States have not installed any new windmills in the past six months. However, one should point out that the majority have already met their EU renewables targets for 2020, e.g. Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia (Eurostat data).
Despite the virtual lack of new connections (increase at 0.6% only) in 2016, Poland ranked 7 in the European ranking of installed capacity in the wind energy sector. However, the difference between us and the leaders of the EU energy and climate policy is widening both when it comes to volumes and wind energy’s participation in domestic energy mix.
Recently the most dynamic growth (%) in the wind energy has taken place in Great Britain and Belgium, where it has grown by over 10% when it comes to the installed capacity in comparison to the end of 2016.
The consumption of electricity in Poland has been in a long-term upward trend since the beginning of the 90s and has been growing incessantly since the beginning of the 21st century.
The consumption in the first half of 2017 grew by 2% year on year, while production in general increased by 4% in the same period. It grew thanks to brown coal and wind. Favorable weather conditions despite the lack of new capacities increased the production by almost 20% from comparable generation assets at the level of about 5.8 GW. The low participation of other sources of renewable energy is characteristic of the domestic energy mix. They are practically unnoticeable in the system despite a 5% growth in the analyzed period. Despite the increase of average production of wind energy in a half-year period year on year, a detailed monthly look shows that the sector slowed down and its upward trend halted in 2016. Considering the fact no new wind turbines will be installed, the production from this source will only depend on the weather and we need to remember about the growing demand for electricity and the declared slow withdrawal from coal technologies.
The last year has been undoubtedly the worst year in the history of wind energy in Poland. No new capacities, very rapid slowdown of new windmills installations in comparison to previous years despite comparable production caused by favorable weather conditions in the final months are an illustration of the sector’s collapse.
The situation is tragic, but not unusual across the world. A similar slowdown caused by regulations has been witnessed in Spain since 2012. Spain, which today organizes huge auctions for the purchase of electricity produced by renewable energy sources (3 GW + 1.1 GW for wind).
Spain, which understood the shortcomings of the adopted regulations, could be an example to us, just like in the saying about learning from the mistakes of others. The strategy of development for renewable energy sources with wind energy on top of the list should be clear to the business and sustainable, as well as optimally spread out across time. This is true especially in times when we are at risk of power shortages in the national power system and costly consequences of not meeting EU targets.