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Poland signs renewable energy amendments into law

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Poland signs renewable energy amendments into law

Polish President Andrzej Duda has signed into law amendments to the country's Renewable Energy Sources Act designed to help Poland achieve its binding target of producing 15% of its final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, his office said Aug. 9.

The amendments allow for auctions to be held later this year to award support for the construction of 2.5 GW of onshore wind capacity and 750 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity. Auctions in late 2018 awarded contracts for an estimated 1 GW of onshore wind and 500 MW of solar.

Under the changes, biogas installations, whose installed capacity stood at 238 MW at the end of March, will also be eligible for support under feed-in premium subsidies. The amendments are also favorable to both onshore wind and solar developers because they extend the validity of grid connection agreements and the expiry date for construction permits has been withdrawn.

A deadline for building new installations and commencing electricity sales has also been extended. The amendments enter into force 14 days after the signing by Duda.

Duda's office said the changes were aimed at achieving the binding EU renewable energy target.

Some, including the director of the URE energy regulator, Katarzyna Szwed-Lipinska, believe the late push has come too late because many installations that will be awarded support in auctions in late 2019 will not be generating electricity in 2020. In 2017, Poland was 4.1 percentage points away from meeting its target, according to Eurostat.

The RES Act amendments signal a shift, albeit perhaps temporary, in the government's hostile approach to onshore wind development, which saw just 16 MW added last year. Onshore wind capacity stood at 5.87 GW at the end of March, accounting for 67% of Poland's total renewable energy capacity.

Poland's governing Law and Justice party campaigned against wind turbines ahead of winning 2015's parliamentary election. It subsequently introduced distance and height regulations that have hampered growth.

Only onshore wind projects that had already applied for a construction permit by July 2016, when the distance regulation was introduced, are now being developed in Poland.

The government has a much more positive approach to solar PV development, where falling costs and a guaranteed auction price saw PV capacity reach 882.6 MW at the start of August, up from 471 MW at the end of last year, according to the transmission system operator PSE.

Henry Edwardes-Evans and Adam Easton, who contributed to this article, are reporters with S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts are owned by S&P Global Inc.