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Update: Storm in Poland as Iberdrola, Dong plan wind exit

Poland’s wind industry is preparing for a major battle with the government over “dangerous and potentially damaging” new legislation, as Dong Energy and Iberdrola draw up plans to quit the country.

Denmark’s Dong and Iberdrola of Spain — two of the largest investors in Polish wind farms — are looking to exit Eastern Europe’s largest energy market just as the government moves to overhaul its system of support for green energy by effectively cutting funding for onshore wind.

A spokeswoman for the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) tells Recharge that the Ministry of Economy is preparing a bill that will be damaging for wind and the wider renewable-­energy sector.

“A draft bill on renewables was presented by the Ministry of Economy in July, but has since been changed for the worse,” she says.

“There are very dangerous provisions in the new act that we just don’t accept.”

The PWEA has commissioned an independent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, to be released on 10 October, into the potential effects of the new act. It has also invited officials from the ministry to speak at an industry forum on 20 November.

One analyst describes the wind legislation as “unstable”, adding that “in future, you will have to be brave to invest in Poland”.

However, another source says the potential sales of wind farms by Dong and Iberdrola are likely to be dictated by the companies’ attempts to reduce debt.

Dong operates three wind farms in Poland, with a capacity of 111.5MW, while Iberdrola has five projects totalling 184.5MW.

A spokesman tells Recharge that Dong will not discuss market rumours. Iberdrola also declined to comment.

Poland’s four state-controlled power generators — PGE, Tauron, Enea and Energa — have not invested much in wind energy, but are thought to be interested in broadening their portfolios. The sector is also appealing for private-equity groups to bring in finance.

Poland, the largest economy in the region, generates about 90% of its electricity from coal. To meet EU regulations on carbon emissions, it must increase the share of renewables in its energy mix to at least 15% by 2020.

The country increased its wind-power capacity to 1.6GW at the end of 2011, from 1.2GW the year before, after Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government encouraged investment to help meet EU renewables targets.