Government boosts onshore wind farms with new regulations

Poland has the lowest share of RES in its energy mix in the EU and the highest wholesale energy prices in the EU.

– Maintaining the current mix in the long-term would entail a further, significant increase in energy prices – indicates the Ministry of Development, Labor and Technology in the justification to the amendment of the so-called the distance act, consultation of which has just ended.

After the liberalization of the regulations, under certain conditions, it will be possible to build new onshore wind farms closer to the buildings. The ministry estimates that this will contribute to the release of the investment potential and the construction of approximately 3.7 GW of new capacity by 2025. Importantly, in the long run, it is also expected to lower energy prices.

  • The regulations that came into force in 2016 resulted in a drastic decline in investments in wind farms. However, they contained transitional provisions that allowed for the implementation of such investments, in principle, until this year. However, this opportunity is slowly coming to an end and a change is needed to unlock new investment potential, says Anna Kornecka, Deputy Minister of Development, Labor and Technology, to Newseria Biznes.

The so-called distance act, which entered into force in 2016, introduced the 10H rule, i.e. the standard defining the distance from buildings to wind farms. As the name suggests, the limit is 10 times the height of the windmill, i.e. about 1.5 km. In practice, however, there are not many such places in Poland, which is why the distance act has stopped the development of onshore wind energy for several years.

  • Despite the fact that in the last two years, 2 GW of new capacities have been installed, without changing the regulations in 2022 and subsequent years, this decrease could be drastic – assesses Anna Kornecka. – Over the last few years, industry associations, local governments and energy-intensive companies, which must show an appropriate share of green energy in their energy mix, have signaled that they are not able to do it without unlocking the potential and installing sources such as wind energy.

The Ministry of Development, Labor and Technology is now planning to liberalize the distance act. Consultations on the draft amendment have just ended. According to the ministry’s announcements, it should go to the Sejm in September.

  • As part of the draft law, we are departing from the 10H rule, but understood as a comprehensive regulation for the entire country – announces the deputy minister.

The proposed liberalization of the distance act assumes that the 10H rule will be maintained, but the commune will be able to define a different distance between windmills and buildings in the local spatial development plan. The minimum absolute distance will be set at 500 m. In order to loosen the restriction, however, the municipality will first have to conduct public consultations and forecast studies on the impact of the wind farm (eg noise) on the functioning of the inhabitants.

The project also assumes that new wind farms will be able to be built only on the basis of the local development plan. However, the obligation to prepare a plan will only apply to the area of ​​the forecasted impact of the turbine. The forecast of impacts is also to be consulted with the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection.

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