The Polish lower house of parliament has approved a revision to the country’s renewables legislation last week that paves the way for the auctioning of 2.5GW of onshore wind capacity still this year, industry federation WindEurope said.

The changes are expected to be approved by the Polish senate at the end of this month. They include an extension of deadlines for interconnection agreements which are key to the viability of projects bidding into the upcoming auction.

“It’s great news that Poland will have a 2.5GW onshore wind auction this year. This builds on their last auction in November 2018 which showed that onshore wind is very competitive on price: it’s now cheaper than new coal and nuclear,” WindEurope chief policy officer Pierre Tardieu said.

“The Polish Government clearly sees an important role for both onshore and offshore wind in meeting their rising energy demand.”

The government in a late last year surprise move carried out a highly-successful 1GW onshore wind tender for projects that already had a permit in place before a damaging 10-H distance rule took roots. Warsaw after that decided to hold another 2.5GW auction this year for remaining projects that had been approved before the distance rule kicked in.

The amendment to the renewables act does not include a scrapping of the distance rule, though.

“The stringent set-back distance law on wind turbines will need fixing to allow for future growth beyond this year’s auction,” Tardieu therefore stressed.

Poland will hold parliamentary elections later this year, and the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) is walking a fine line trying to reconcile the need for cleaner energy due to EU climate targets with its traditional voter base in coal districts.

Poland currently derives close to 80% of its electricity from coal and lignite, and in the past has held back EU ambitions for a faster decarbonisation of the economy.

The amendment also set rules strengthening the country’s Guarantees of Origin (GOs) scheme. GOs are key to enable the growth of corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with wind farms, as corporates need assurances that they are sourcing clean electricity. In return, corporate renewable PPAs offer wind farms stable revenues.

Poland is facing rising electricity demand and aims to increase total power capacity from 40 GW to 73 GW by 2040, WindEurope states.