Residential and commercial PV drive solar growth in Poland, cumulative capacity nears 200 MW

Poland has installed around 101 MW of new PV installations in 2016, according to the report on the Polish PV market “Rynek fotowoltaiki w Polsce 2017” published by Polish renewable energy institute Instytut Energetyki Odnawialnej (IEO).

This is more than expected by the local solar association Polish Society for Photovoltaics (PV POLAND), which in mid-March told pv magazine it expected approximately 90 MW for last year.

At the end of 2016, the country’s cumulative installed capacity had reached 199 MW. Of this capacity, around 99 MW is represented by installations built under the green certificate scheme and registered by local energy regulator URE, while the remaining 100 MW consists of PV systems installed under net metering.

Of the newly installed PV registered last year, around 73 MW comes in the form of PV installations of 40 kW or smaller.

Solar represented just 0.5% of the country’s generation capacity at the end of 2016, and 2.3% of total renewable energy installed capacity, 8.5 GW, and consists mainly of wind and biomass plants.

Furthermore, the report reveals that total investments for solar in Poland amounted to PLN 550 million ($145.8 million) last year. The domestic solar sector, however, saw the number of its employees decrease from 1,500 in 2015 to 900 in 2016.

Moreover, the authors of the report highlight that all the Polish PV module producers included in their market survey have shipped 41.9 MW of panels last year, although their combined production capacity is 143 MW.

The Polish government is currently supporting solar through net metering (up to 40 kW) and an auction mechanism for large-scale projects (over 40 kW). The two schemes, which replaced the green certificate mechanism, were introduced with a new renewable energy law in July 2016.

Under the net metering 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 PLN 408 ($100.2)/MWh and the lowest PLN 253.5 ($62.2)/MWh.

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 late April, local consultancy Ecofys published a report in which it said Poland will miss its 2020 renewable energy target. The report predicted that Poland will cover 13.8% of its energy demand with renewables by 2020, and not 15% as planned by the Polish government in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP).