Polish offshore wind offered double incentives

Key gov't ministries oppose industry's development

Developers wishing to harness Poland’s Baltic sea offshore wind resources remain frustrated despite news that offshore projects will receive more than double the level of support as onshore wind, according to the second version of the country’s draft renewable energy law.

Published on 27 July, the draft law proposes that offshore wind stations receive 1.8 green certificates for each MWh generated, for 15 years. In addition, offshore wind operators would sell their power at a guaranteed price of PLN199/MWh (€48.5). In contrast, onshore wind projects commissioned during 2012/13 are due to receive just 0.9 certificates/MWh and those launched in 2017 would receive 0.825/MWh.

What worries Poland’s offshore wind industry is that the value of green certificates, which are tradable on the Polish Power Exchange, depends on demand from  the country’s energy suppliers. Although the certificates’ value has been set at a high level, at PLN288 (€70), the proportion of their total supply that energy companies must purchase from renewable sources in future has yet to be confirmed by the Polish finance ministry.  

Fear that demand will be insufficient to maintain the value of green certificates has recently intensified, with oversupply of certificates having led to a 10% drop in their value over the past two months, to about PLN260. Such uncertainty makes forecasting the amount of revenue likely to be generated by an offshore wind station more difficult and, potentially, undermining project viability.

Another significant concern of companies wishing to enter the Polish offshore wind market is the number of obstacles being placed in their way by government bodies as developers seek to obtain development licenses.

Some powerful elements within the Polish government have yet to be convinced that they should support the emergence of an offshore wind industry. In April, it became clear that the environment ministry opposes the issuing of offshore wind development licenses because it wishes to protect sites for future shale gas exploitation. Two weeks ago, the agriculture ministry said that offshore wind stations will interfere with fisheries.

The names and total number of companies that have applied for offshore wind development licenses have not been disclosed by the government, however, it is known that just three have been granted licenses thus far.

Forty-eight sites have been identified as potential locations for offshore wind stations in the Polish Baltic Sea, with the winners of the first three licenses all well-known Polish names: Kulczyk, Orlen and PGE. The latter two are controlled by the Polish state.

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