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Poland mulls putting 2.5GW of onshore wind back on the table

Industry body says Warsaw could soften law this year that stopped vast tracts of land being developed

The Polish government said it is preparing an amendment to a damaging distance rule for onshore wind that brought new developments to a near standstill, as hopes rise the country could auction 2.5GW of capacity this year.

Deputy energy minister Tomasz Dąbrowski told parliament of plans to soften location restrictions for wind turbines “at least in case of municipalities where local communities agree to such investments,” the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) said.

“Softening the distance restrictions for wind farms is a step in a good direction,” PWEA president Janusz Gajowiecki said.

“The municipalities and local communities being the direct beneficiaries of revenues, for instance from taxes paid by investors, should be able to decide whether they want to have such an installation in their neighbourhood.”

The government according to PWEA may tender off around 2.5GW in additional wind auctions this year.

Confusion and contradiction: what next for Polish wind?

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The nationalist-populist Law and Justice (PiS) party in 2016 enacted a so-called 10H rule, which stipulates that no turbines can be erected within a distance equal to ten times its blade-tip height from a neighbouring property.

The distance restriction pushed Polish wind additions down from 1.23GW in 2016, to a mere 41MW in 2017 and 15.7MW last year.

PWEA expects Warsaw to change the distance rule by the autumn of this year, possibly in the wake of an amendment of Poland’s renewable energies act (RES Act).

The PiS-government is apparently gradually softening its previous hostility towards wind energy amid pressure from the European Union to reach climate targets, and after very positive results of a first about 1GW onshore wind tender held last November that produced low average prices of PLN196 ($51.97) per megawatt hour.

The 2018 onshore tender was carried out for wind projects that already had construction permits in hand before the distance rule kicked in.

“Unblocking the onshore wind energy potential will not only allow for lowering electricity bills, but will also affect air quality and emission intensity of our economy,” Gajowiecki said.

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