Poland’s Renewable Drive Praised for Contributing to “Exceptional Year” for European Solar Energy
Despite its modest progress in terms of solar energy, the Polish government and the country’s adoption of renewables has been praised for its contribution to what has been described as “an exceptional year” for solar energy in the European Union.
It is estimated that by the end of 2019, the number of solar panels installed across the EU during 2019 will increase by 81% to 20.4 GW as a result of a 2018 levy removal on imported solar panels. This was also boosted by political will shown by EU member state leaders to meet their 2020 energy objectives.
Since 2018, Poland’s government led by President Andrzej Duda has taken a number of measures to gradually move the country away from coal, its dominant energy source. In August, it announced that it would not allow for the further construction of coal-fired power plants across the country, after confirming that the 1000MW coal block in the town of Ostrołęka would be the last of its kind to be built in Poland.
This year has also seen the government take further measures to commit Poland to a renewable future. In April, its Energy Minister, Krzysztow Tchórzewski, drafted an energy bill which would include solar energy into the country’s energy strategy as a way of avoiding electricity outages during the summer months.
Should renewables continue to penetrate Poland’s market at their current rate, it is predicted that by 2020, the total power output from solar energy plants in Poland would increase to 1GW, or by 200%. The government also estimates that should Minister Tchórzewski’s draft energy bill be signed into law, then Poland’s solar energy would grow to 10.3GW over the next decade.
Sun Investment Group (SIG), a solar energy development and investment management company managing 15% of Poland’s PV market, believes that the Polish government’s change in attitudes towards renewables will significantly contribute to the projection that 2020 will be when European solar energy records are broken for the first time since 2011.
This is due to the anticipated construction of more solar PV farms across the continent during the next year. As a consequence of these builds, it is expected that these numbers will jump from their current rate of 20.4 GW to 24.1 GW.
However, SIG believes that improved conditions are needed in Poland for investors if the country is to capitalise on its potential in terms of renewables. One of the biggest challenges for solar energy providers is to obtain the necessary construction permits from the Polish authorities, and build a fully-operational plant from scratch within 18 months. However it is anticipated to change, as a new version of the amended renewable law is set to extend the timeline period of a project.
“In recent years, we have seen Poland pivot towards a positive and sustainable renewable energy strategy after it introduced a CfD auction system,” said SIG’s Chief Business Development Officer, Andrius Terskovas. “Based on the number of solar energy investments Poland is attracting from China, Scandinavia, and neighbouring Lithuania, we expect it to start contributing to Europe’s renewable-based future. However, having in mind Poland’s size and population, its strategy should be more ambitious, as it is trailing behind lagging behind other Germany, which has an installed capacity of 43 GW, and Italy with 20 GW.”
The Polish government’s gradual pivot towards renewables is representative of the fact that once fossil fuel-dependant EU nations can successfully begin to make the transition to renewable energy sources. The rate of adoption, however, will most likely depend on the outcome of this year’s parliamentary election in Poland, and whether a green-focused party can make further political inroads into renewables than the current conservative-leaning administration.