Poland has set out terms for a 100-MW small-scale solar capacity auction planned for December 30 – the first such tender to be awarded under new legislation published in July.
The auction seeks to award contracts to photovoltaic (PV) solar projects of no more than 1 MW, but would be the first in a series of auctions seeking to award 300 MW more in 2017, and at least 1 GW in total by 2020.
The Energy Regulation Office is offering 15-year contracts for difference (CfDs) with a ceiling price of 465 zloty (US$112) per MWh, with contracts going to those that offer the lowest power prices. The system replaces a feed-in tariff (FiT) that had gone to both utility-scale and small PV plants. That tariff will remain in place for PV facilities of 40 kW, and where such plants are mainly used by households or businesses. They may also sell unused power back to the national grid.
Poland is moving slowly by the standards of its neighbours, in part because of the drag caused by its large coal-mining industry, which has more than 100,000 workers. Some 70% of coal output goes to electricity production, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The World Bank estimates that Poland generates 85% of its power from coal, although even this represents a drop from regular rates above 90% seen from the 1970s until 2010. Politically powerful unions view a shift to renewable energy as an attack on their members.
The nation has been gestating renewable energy auctions since 2009, the year it committed to European Union targets to source 15% of its power from renewables by 2020. As evidenced, the transition has been low; the date of the first auction has been put off at least twice this year alone. The EU’s own “Keep On Track” publication chides Poland for not providing predictability for developers and “a lack of political willingness to develop RES beyond EU requirements.”
Legislation passed this year mostly appears to be further discouraging renewables. June 2016’s Wind Farm Law increased taxes on wind farms and set a formula for their location from housing developments of at least 10 times the height of their highest turbine.
Poland had added just under 4 GW of wind capacity from 2010 to 2015, and now has just under 5 GW installed. While additional solar capacity auctions will help raise clean energy output, the country remains far from pioneering in terms of renewables development.