Big interest in Poland’s PV market


At present, the Polish photovoltaic market is still relatively limited in size. Up to now only a one megawatt park has been connected to the grid, in addition to several smaller plants and off-grid installations, totaling just under 2.3 MW.

"Everyone is just waiting for the new law," commented Gzegorz Wisniewski of the Polish energy institute, IEO, at the experts’ workshop "Photovoltaics in Poland", held on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany.

For months the government in Warsaw has been struggling to reorganize the subsidies for its renewable energies. Although it has already submitted several drafts, none of them have yet been sent to parliament. Thus at this point no one assumes that the law will really enter into force as of January 1, 2013. More realistic from the experts’ point of view is the middle of the coming year.

Meanwhile, the general direction of the new law has become apparent. Presumably small photovoltaic systems with an output of up to 100 kW will be subsidized with a feed-in tariff that will be paid up to the year 2027, while a relatively complicated certificate system is planned in the case of larger systems with more than 100 kilowatts.

This certificate system already exists, but plans are to improve it with a correction for the diverse renewable energies. Yet a lot depends on the development of prices for green electricity certificates – a factor that no one is able to assess on a long-term basis at the moment.

Christian Schnell, an attorney with the firm DMS in Warsaw, nevertheless hopes that the ministries will soon send the bill to parliament.

In addition to domestic players, a number of project planners in Germany are already waiting in the wings. Piotr Rudyszyn of W4E – which has already realized numerous wind parks in Poland and is now planning to develop photovoltaic projects as well – reports, for example, that efforts are already well underway to secure the required areas.

However, selection of available land is limited. Discussions have been held with farmers who expect to receive about €1,000 per hectare in return for leasing their land. Furthermore, it is advisable that areas be targeted without a fixed land development plan as modification of such a plan can take up to one year, noted Rudyszyn.

It is not only the securing of appropriate areas that causes photovoltaic project planners headaches, but also the bureaucratic hurdles standing in their way – such as environmental and grid connection certifications for installations. A period of 150 days maximum still applies in the case of plants with less than two MW of output. But for solar parks with an output of more than two MW, a survey has to be prepared for grid assessment – which in turn delays the period required for connection.

In the long run, problems with grid connection may also mean that there will not be an enormous photovoltaic boom in Poland, despite the attractive feed-in terms and conditions, points out attorney Christian Schnell. The government in Warsaw also has rather conservative expectations when it comes to realizing additional photovoltaic installations in Poland. In the most optimistic scenario of the national plan of action, it predicts just 1.8 GW of installed photovoltaic output by the year 2020.

Yet fears on the part of the Polish government that there could be an enormous photovoltaic boom following introduction of the law do exist. However, attorney Schnell only shares this view to a certain extent. At the moment, the law also does not provide for any type of ceiling for photovoltaics whatsoever.

More on the topic at the 13th Forum Solarpraxis, November 22-23, 2012 in Berlin

At the 13th Forum Solarpraxis a closer look will be taken at various growth markets for photovoltaic technologies. Poland – which is regarded as one of the emerging international markets – will be one of them. Perhaps the draft will already be in parliament by this time, and thus reveal what the future of solar subsidies in Poland will be.

At the forum, there will also be numerous lectures and rounds of experts; among other things on new market design, the prospects for solar companies as well as system transformation and system engineering. A further focus will be placed on the status of the German photovoltaic market and changing international markets.

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Translated by Alan Faulcon.

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