(ADPnews) – Nov 9, 2010 – The substantial wind resource of Poland has helped the country gain visibility in the European wind power market, but legislative changes and grid development are needed to achieve ambitious plans for the next ten years.
By Ausra T. Antonov
Bound to achieve a 15% green energy target by 2020, Poland is apparently betting on wind power. The country is well suited for large-scale wind power development as its average wind speeds reach between 5.5 metres per second (m/s; 18 feet per second) and 7.0 m/s. The most promising wind power projects are seen to sprout in the southern mountainous region and along the Baltic coast.
At present, Poland has 1 GW of wind power capacity installed. The figure makes almost half of all green power installations -- 2.2 GW, in the country.
Earlier this year, the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) blessed a report, prepared by the Institute for Renewables, which suggests that the share of wind power in carbon-free electricity consumption may increase to more than 62% in the next decade from the current 15%. The analysis, dubbed "The wind power development in Poland by 2020 – a vision", forecasts that wind power installations will surpass 13 GW in 2020, including 11 GW in onshore, 1.5 GW in offshore wind farms and 600 MW in small wind turbines.
However, the current absence of appropriate legislation allowing offshore wind development, weak grid infrastructure and the lack of grid connectivity still limit Polish wind power sector, US research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan pointed out in its analysis published earlier this year.
Even though some developers, including state-owned Polish Energy Group (PGE), show an interest in setting up offshore wind power facilities, the country currently offers no wherewithal and support for implementation of such developments.
According to an optimistic scenario, commissioned by PWEA, the first offshore wind farms will start contributing to the cumulative green goal as of 2018 with the first 500 MW coming on stream and further 500 MW to be added for both 2019 and 2020.
While waiting for offshore projects to start springing up, the government is offering support for on-land wind farms with the guarantee standard price of electricity produced from renewable energy sources -- PLN 155,44 (USD 56/EUR 40) per 1 MWh. The payment corresponds to the mean electricity price of the previous year, which is calculated by the Energy Regulatory Office (URE). The latter is also obliged to issue appropriate licences for investors, who want to sell the produced energy on the market. But before this, wind power project developers must get through other legal and administrative procedures, including obtaining construction, grid connection and environmental permits, as required by the Energy Law Act.
Returning to the findings made by Frost & Sullivan, Poland has also great potential in wind turbine manufacturing as well. Gdansk-based shipbuilder Aluship Technology turns out 100 towers per year at its factory, whose capacity is planned to double. Danish wind turbine blades maker LM Wind Power opened its manufacturing facility in Goleniow, northern Poland, in March 2009. In addition, Elbag-based Odlewnia Elzamech, which specializes in metal foundry, possesses also a wind industry portfolio. EcoSolar from Warsaw manufactures SkyWind small- and micro-scale wind turbines.
Taking into consideration the ambitious sector's outlook, employment in the country's wind sector may grow to 66,000 jobs by 2020 from 2,000 full job equivalents in 2008. To realise that scenario Poland must take seriously the industry urgings to amend laws and improve grid connectivity to encourage offshore wind farms and fulfil green energy obligations to EU.
(PLN 1.0 = USD 0.361/EUR 0.256)
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