Poland added 94 MW of PV capacity in 2016

Poland’s solar market grew by approximately 94 MW last year. According to provisional figures provided to pv magazine by local PV analyst Piotr Pająk, which cites data from the polish PV association (PTPV), the country’s installed PV capacity had reached 192.8 MW as of the end of December 2016.

The cumulative capacity at the end of 2015 was 98 MW, while at the end of 2014 Poland had only 27 MW of grid-connected PV installations.

The current cumulative capacity consists of 17,000 PV systems up to 40 kW, totaling 93.7 MW, and 473 installations exceeding 40 kW with a combined capacity of 99.1 MW.

Pająk believes that in 2017 the Polish PV market will show the same trend registered last year. This year, Pająk stressed, the first MW-sized PV plants will be connected to the national grid, developed as a result of the auction held last December. Furthermore, Pająk explained that this year’s growth will benefit from an increasing amount of EU funding. “The regulatory framework now appears stable, and this may finally give investors some confidence in the medium-term,” Pająk said.

The Polish government introduced changes to the country’s renewable energy law in July 2016. The new legislation has created an auction mechanism for PV installations with a power of more than 40 kW and a net-metering scheme for PV systems up to 40 kW.

According to Pająk, it is currently difficult to accurately assess how the net-metering scheme is performing, because several small-sized PV projects are being implemented mostly thanks to EU funds. Under the scheme, operators of PV systems up to 10 kW are refunded 80% for each kilowatt they inject into the electricity system, while owners of PV installations ranging in size between 10 kW and 40 KW are refunded 70%.

As for the auction mechanism, the government held the first auction in late December. Through the tender, a total of 82 renewable energy projects up to 1 MW were selected, the majority for MW-sized PV plants. The highest bid was 408 PLN ($100.2)/MWh and the lowest 253.5 PLN ($62.2)/MWh.

For 2017, Poland’s Ministry of Energy has planned another auction. The government is considering setting a ceiling price of 450 PLN ($110.5)/MWh for the PV source. This compares to 465 PLN ($114.2)/MWh set for the auction held in December.

Although Poland has recently implemented several policies to improve its energy system, coal power generation still represents in excess of 80% of the country’s electricity mix. In early March, the Polish government formally challenged the EU’s reform of the emissions trading scheme (ETS), which was approved by members states in late February, with 19 votes for and nine against.

Piotr Pająk represents Polish renewable energy portal Gramwzielone.pl.