Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2016

Renewables in Poland - Change of Government has so far no Impact on the Legisaltion for the Energy Sector

● By Legal Counsel Dr. Christian Schnell, Warsaw ● 

As expected, the new Polish government currently concentrates on institutional changes, i.e. replacing the judges of the constitutional court, replacing the board members of the state owned companies and replacing senior clerks, in order to get control over the most significant institutions and decision making bodies. 

Dr. Christian Schnell
Such an approach of the new government has a certain track record in the most recent history of Poland, but the rapid implementation of the master plan is astonishing and provokes harsh reactions in the Polish and foreign press. The main government members, i.e. the new Minister of Energy Mr. Tchórzewski, the new Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Development (thee former Ministry of Economy) Mr. Morawiecki, the new Minister of Environmental Protection Mr. Szyszko, the Prime Minister Mrs. Szydło and the new President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Duda continue to orally support the coal mining industry – as the former government did, and to interpret Paris their way. Yet, no new coherent concept how to avoid bankruptcy of the state owned coal mines has been presented; beside coal mines to be taken over by Polish state-owned utilities providers. All alternative ideas presented thus far are mostly not in compliance with the Brussels’ approach to the state aid. It can be assumed that the new government will continue restricting wind farms (and - additionally - other technologies such as PV and biogas) and block issuing zoning decisions for RES generators exceeding 40 kW installed capacity. Mr. Tchórzewski already pointed out that his main task for the first half of 2016 is to safeguard the Polish (bankrupt) mining industry, and that he does not intend to deal with revision of the energy law before the second half of 2016. Accordingly, no legislative changes to the auction system should be expected – at least until the first auction. Consequently, the new government published the reference price regulation at the beginning of December, signed by the previous Minister of Economy on 13 November. Onshore wind is criticized for not delivering a sufficient amount of new jobs – no turbine producer moved its production to Poland during recent years, whereas biogas is orally promoted as a technology which can provide many new jobs (however, the relevant reference price level is not sufficient for biogas plants which have to purchase substrates). It seems that the new government will continue the policy of the previous one to generally criticize RES generators, in particular onshore wind, without providing an alternative concept for cheap low carbon power production. Accordingly, a specific positive impact of Poland on the new energy policy in Europe can hardly be expected, and the Polish energy sector will face serious investments (or shut-downs due to the required non-efficient investments in new filters) in the event that new BREF standards are implemented by 2020 or a few years later if Poland manages to negotiate a short transition period for the existing installations). Generally, even if the Polish utilities assume that more than a half of the coal plant power park has to be decommissioned by 2025 and, additionally, the lignite power plants will be switched off after 2030 at the latest when the current lignite mines are exploited. A Polish nuclear power plant project will be halted for at least another five years due to environmental proceedings. Accordingly, it seems more likely that Polish utilities will be forced to purchase shares in the existing nuclear power plants in the neighbouring countries to secure energy supply for the next decades.

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