There are still no stable regulations for renewable energy sources (RES). Discussions are in full swing, writes Teresa Wójcik, editor at BiznesAlert.pl.
The lack of sufficient statutory regulations is becoming increasingly troublesome for Poland’s RES sector. When the Parliamentary Group for Mining and Energy met on 11 October, all of the discussions revolved around this issue. Points were raised by both opponents and supporters of alternative energy. The talks went well beyond the topic of the meeting, which was “The future of wind energy, legal conditions, part 2.” At the same time, the excessive number of the issues discussed coupled with the lively polemic on both sides of the barricade, yielded a lot of content. The conclusions for future parliamentary works are yet to be formulated by the group’s chairman Ireneusz Zyska and his colleagues.
Good RES regulations are hard to formulate
If the consultations on the future “large RES act” with interest groups are as lively, the chances that the act will be adopted quickly are slim. This is because the interest groups include, among others, about 110 non-governmental organizations. From a legal standpoint each one has the right to participate in the consultations. The same right is shared by representatives of the renewable energy sector, experts and scientists.
On the same day when the Parliamentary Group for Mining and Energy met, similar problems were discussed at the New Industry Congress during the panel titled “New deal for the RES market.” When talking about the biggest of the problems, which is the state of the RES legislation, the panelists concluded that the sector was overregulated and required significant and rather quick changes. MP Gabriela Lenartowicz was very critical about the current chances of improving the law. In her opinion the draft legislation submitted to the Sejm has “bad legal frameworks,” and is usually proposed as “MP projects.” She explained that this could be caused either by political factors or haste. At the same time “wind turbine investors found themselves in a significantly altered economic situation” and are waiting for good legislation. When asked by the moderator Ireneusz Chojnacki (editor at WNP), the MP admitted the issues with legislation had started earlier, during the PO/PSL ruling coalition when the RES policy was “not progressive enough.” It is only today that PO appreciates that the RES sector is the “driving force behind the economy.”
The RES sector is maturing
According to Grzegorz Wiśniewski, President of the Institute for Renewable Energy and to one of the panelists at the Congress, the amendments to regulations that directly and indirectly pertain to the alternative energy sector have to accommodate the huge progress, including the technological changes, that has taken place within the business. It is pertinent to, among others, do away with the expression “unstable energy sources”, while an open market for energy trade will allow for sales volumes that match the supply. Supply from various conventional and unconventional sources. These energy sources will complement each other.
The panelists stressed that, especially offshore wind energy, thanks to the latest technological developments, is able to provide electricity even at low wind speeds. Offshore wind farms have an even bigger potential, but in Poland they are still a long way off. In a conversation with BiznesAlert.pl government representatives promised that this energy sector will have a chance to develop, but only around the 2030s so as not to antagonize the nuclear sector.
Lex Energa without Energa
The absence at the meeting in the Sejm of Energa’s CEO Daniel Obajtek was somewhat disappointing, because without his participation the issue of the so-called Lex Energa was not as important. Even though it was included in the official topic, where it was used as an example of “legal conditions.” This pertains to the amendment to the RES act and the changes to green certificates (and blue ones to some extent as well). The CEO did not attend the New Industry Congress either.
The new regulations abolished the fixed alternative fee at PLN 300 per megawatt and instead linked the fee’s value to the market prices of certificates of origin. In the opinion of the wind energy sector (and others), the goal of the amendment was to facilitate the interests of Energa. Despite the fact that the company’s CEO was absent, the exchange of arguments regarding the green certificates was important. Everybody agreed that the existing green certificate system had become useless. However, is the amendment rational and beneficial for wind energy, or not? Andrzej Kazimierski Director of the Renewable Energy Department at the Ministry of Energy defended the amendment. The change lowered the energy price for final consumers by a few Zlotys a year. And the government cares about the interests of that group particularly.
The Energy Regulatory Office has a different opinion
Still, the doubts have not been dispelled. Katarzyna Szepetlińska from the Energy Regulatory Office (URE) argued against Kazimierski’s points. She presented an opinion prepared by URE, which said that the goal of the latest amendment to the RES act was not to significantly lower the energy bills for final consumers. This will have to be discussed by the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Environment and URE.
Poland’s energy mix – coal and RES
The panelists who participated in a discussion on alternative energy sources at the Congress stressed that the coal sector would remain a significant part of the Polish energy industry for years to come. Germany, it seems, started to perceive the role of coal realistically. An increasing number of German politicians assure that the country will not get rid of coal in the coming decades. Still, Berlin continues to develop the alternative energy sector and Angela Merkel sees her country as the world leader in decarbonization and the Paris Accord. This conviction shows the excess of optimism and lack of sound reasoning, because the level of CO2 emissions has not dropped in Germany since 2009 when the “effect of shutting down dirty industry in East Germany has run out.” Nobody is perfect.
A good legal framework
Considering the detailed presentations given by the participants, the changes in the RES regulations will have to be far reaching. This is not about overregulation, it is about ensuring the development of the sector and ridding it of pathologies. Some of those include, e.g. speculation and illegal games with green certificates. The charges against the current legal framework raised by the participants of the meeting at the Sejm were even more severe. The panelists talked about the impunity of those who built windmills against the law, e.g. 100 m away from households. Other charges included corrupting local authorities to acquire construction permits against the will of the inhabitants and the legal regulations. Representatives from the warmińsko-mazurskie and podkarpackie voivodeships presented drastic examples. The issue of “reconciling wind farms” with the environment and agriculture also cropped up. “We have to have space for beetroots, potatoes, rye. For a beautiful landscape without windmills,” one of the participants said.