Michał Kaczerowski, the head of Ambiens, speaks about the need for quick wind farm decisions.
BiznesAlert.pl: During the European Economic Congress in Katowice, the minister of energy asked for time for energy transformation, but supported the development of renewable energy in Poland. Is there a return?
Michał Kaczerowski: We can talk about a return. Since the takeover of energy management by the current ruling team, renewable energy has been discriminated against. Announcement of large auctions can be interpreted as a light in the tunnel. However, this is an attempt to catch up from 2016-18. One GW contracted today, and possible to build in 2-3 years is the power that should increase in wind energy in recent years and already be visible today, so that we are on time with the implementation of climate policy commitments. One GW is one-sixth of current power in the wind, but we should have had it for a long time. The industry is optimistic about this step. They hope for further, necessary changes.
What about the goals of climate policy?
This goal will not be achieved due to the prosaic design conditions, limitations of processing capacity or uncertainty of the investment nature (financing). We are late for 2020. The arguments negotiated with Brussels will be those contracted in the auction. We have been building the present power of 5,8 GW for over a dozen years. We are not able to build such a large volume under such time pressure also due to the weather or, for example, natural constraints. Projects will be queued and it must take time. In the optimistic variant, the turnout in the auction will be high, as will the determination of the project owners with the building permit and the connection agreement. This creates the risk of too low prices that will not provide financing. Some investors can put everything on one card with a filing binder on the shelf with timely administrative decisions, while having no knowledge about the schedule of subsequent auctions. The energy policy strategy is very much awaited by the industry.
Meanwhile, the distance law continues to hinder wind power on land.
This is the crux of the problem. We have our first auction. Perhaps there will be a next one. Projects ready to start today in the auction and construction will end sooner or later. It should be remembered while being aware of the fact that the completion of a land wind farm from scratch is 5-7 years.
Therefore, further development of wind energy requires implementation of new greenfield projects. Today, this possibility is not available due to the distance law excluding areas at a distance less than or equal to 10 times the height of the wind turbine from the nearest development and protected areas. As the Ambiens analysis shows, that is over 99% of the country’s territory. At the same time, these regulations limit the replacement of old turbines with new, more effective, that is repowering. We have turbines working in Poland for 15 years. And wind technology is still growing dynamically, machine efficiency is increasing. It often pays faster than it was originally intended to exchange turbines for bigger, more modern, more efficient – giving more energy from a given area. This can be seen by analyzing the so-called capacity factor of individual projects and statistics of European markets. If you look at places with comparable wind conditions, you can see that Polish wind energy is aging. We produce less energy from the installed capacity than comparable countries in terms of wind conditions. There are more modern machines there. Here, the investment gap of the last three years is already visible in the system, not only in terms of the lack of new connected capacity, but also in the scope of production. Freeing the development of new projects would increase efficiency and serve the implementation of national energy policy interests and increasing climate requirements. Today is the perfect time to think not only about 2020 goals but to meet the challenges of 2030.
Will there be a change?
The renewable energy director at the Ministry of Energy mentioned during the EEC in Katowice that local communities should benefit from wind farms. I want to understand this as an answer to the idea of the industry in the field of social participation, which would be a perfect complement to the individual assessment of the impact on the environment. Farms should give tangible benefits to local communities. It’s a simple and honest mechanism. For this phenomenon to occur, regulations must be predictable, which will allow investors to share profitable business. There cannot be, for example, uncertainty about property tax.
Interview conducted by Wojciech Jakóbik