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Market News

 February 22, 2007
Poland: Renewable Energy

 Poland has very favourable technical and economical factors for renewable energy. Poland has begun to experience a shift in political and public support away from traditional fossil fuels and toward the development of renewable energy resources.

Poland has established a target of 10.4 percent of energy production from renewable sources by 2010, and to continue with this target till 2014. These targets were set forth in Ministry of Economy regulation of November 3rd, 2006. Utilities are required to purchase electricity from renewable sources, and prices are regulated by tariffs. Producers of green energy can apply for green certificates that are tradable on global energy stock exchange markets.

Biomass and wind appear to be the most promising renewable energy resources for development in Poland, with an estimated potential of about 4,000 MW each. Both liquid and solid biomass are considered to be the main sources of renewable energy in Poland, for both electricity and thermal energy production. Biomass technologies and supply sources are relatively mature, and the investment costs are lower than for other maturing renewable energy technologies.

Poland also has some of the best documented wind resources in Central and Eastern Europe with areas reaching up to 1,000 W/m2 in power density.

Best Prospects

Political, legal and financial aspects of renewable energy source utilization in Poland have been adjusted according to what the country committed when signing EU accession treaty. The technical potential of renewable energy sources in Poland is estimated a 3,850 PJ per year, meaning that almost 90 percent of primary energy consumption can be covered by Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in Poland. Geothermal, solar and biomass energy have the highest technical potential (respectively: 1,512 PJ, 1,340 PJ, 619 PJ per year). Resources of water and wind energy are much lower (technical potential, respectively, 43 PJ and 36 PJ per year). Wave and tidal potential energy has not been fully assessed.

In 2005 production of energy from RES was estimated at 3,760,301 MWh:

  • 2,175,559 MWh generated from water energy,

  • 467,975 MWh of thermal and electric energy generated from biomass (heat from wood, straw and biogas energy, power from biogas and landfill gas energy),

  • 135,291 MWh from wind mills,

  • 104,465 MWh from biogas,

  • 877,009 MWh from co-firing installations.

According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Poland is one of the most promising wind energy markets in Europe. The country possesses many potentially profitable locations and great development possibilities. Much of Poland has favourable conditions for wind energy production where the average wind speed varies between 5.5 and 7.0 m/s at a height of 50 meters. Assessed productivity of one 2MW turbine may be equal to as much as 5 thousand MWH per year.

A country wide wind atlas is available which indicates that an area in the north-west has wind speeds above 6m/s at 10 m. The Baltic coast, one large central area and an area to the north have wind speed of 5m/s. There is currently only 108 MW of wind energy capacity installed in Poland.

Biomass is the most promising source of renewable energy in Poland. The technical potential of biomass amounts to 755 PJ/year, and the greatest opportunities for biomass technology implementation are in the forestry, wood processing and agriculture sectors.

The majority of current biomass use is as heat for and small and medium scale boilers in industrial settings and the most common fuel are wood pieces, sawdust, and wood shavings. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants using organic waste from pulp and paper operations, and straw and wood fired heating plants are also in operation.

Biogas production from landfill gas and municipal waste is also available. In 2002 there were approximately 25 landfill gas installations producing 22.3 GWh of electricity and 100 TJ of heat. Biogas production from municipal waste resulted in about 38 GWh of electricity and 450 TJ of heat.

About 47 percent of the land area of Poland, about 14 million ha, consists of arable and agricultural lands. Nearly 9 million ha is forested, approximately 28 percent. It is estimated that the total forest cover in Poland will reach 32 percent in the next 15 years.

There are very good opportunities for biomass development in Poland. The areas with the most potential for biomass / biogas projects are those in the northern and western regions, rural and mountainous regions, as well as the eastern border of Belarus.

Solar radiation intensity in Poland heavily favours the spring and summer months, with approximately 80 percent of the annual solar radiation falling during this period. The installed solar photovoltaic capacity amounts only 300 kW where only 70kW is connected to the grid.

Some liquid and air solar heat collectors are used in Poland. Air units are primarily used for grain drying, while liquid units are generally employed for space and hot water heating in homes and other buildings. The technical potential for solar energy according to the EC BREC's studies of the year 2000 gives an annual technical potential energy as 1340 PJ/yr. This number varies greatly in different studies. It is obvious that country wide research on the technical and economical feasibility of solar energy is needed.

Poland has a sizable reserve of geothermal energy that is rich in low enthalpy resources, although there is little in the form of naturally occurring thermal springs or outflows. The country is characterized by large-scale low enthalpy resources which are contained in 3 sedimentary provinces which cover approximately 80 percent of the total land area.

Currently the country utilizes the resources mainly for space heating and therapeutic purposes, although there are experimental projects regarding fish farming, timber-drying and greenhouse heating. Current installed capacity is approximately 69 MWt, of which 26 MWt is from heat pumps, which collectively generate 274 TJ of energy on an annual basis. The Polish Geothermal Association (PGA) has been pushing for an increase in the use and awareness of the country's resources.

While Poland has set aggressive goals concerning renewable energy to be met in 2010 and 2020 respectively, it is viewed that the majority of the renewable energy development will be in the biomass sector.

Hydro power will probably remain the second largest renewable energy source with limited possibilities of further growth. The Polish hydro power resource is small due to the limited and unfavorable distributed rainfall, high soil permeability and relative flatness of the country. The total installed capacity of large hydro-electric power stations is approximately 340 MW and 185 MW of small hydro. The total technical potential of hydro energy is equal to 49 PJ/year, of that, 6 PJ/year is from small hydro.

As for small hydro plants, approximately 1,000 plants could be built with a total capacity of 200 MW and estimated electric energy production 1,000 GWH/year. Due to limited water resources in Poland, the installed power of most of the small hydro plants is below 100 kW. Such power stations offer a chance of improving the very poor runoff coefficient, particularly on small rivers. Also important is the local retention of water. Small hydro takes advantage of the local potential for electricity generation thus providing a source of income to a group of people, usually in areas with a high unemployment rate. The power output of existing hydro-electric power stations may be increased by 20-30 percent through modernization of the generators.