Poland: Amendment of the Wind Energy Investment Act opens up new development opportunities
On February 8, 2023, the lower house of the Polish parliament (the 'Sejm') adopted an amendment to the Law on Investment in Wind Power Plants and certain other laws. Previous provisions limited investment opportunities in wind power plants, as they required them to be built on average more than 1 km from residential buildings. In addition, residents of municipalities had no influence on the investments being built around them. The amendment adopted in the 'Sejm' is intended to solve these problems.
Among the significant changes introduced by the amendment are the following:
- New wind power plants will be allowed to be located only on the basis of a Local Spatial Development Plan adopted by the municipality.
- The rule of 10 times the total height of a wind power plant from residential buildings (known as the 10H rule) will still, in principle, apply, except in cases in which the Local Spatial Development Plan specifies a different distance, but not less than 700 meters. Outbuildings, on the other hand, will be allowed to be built without distance restrictions.
- In order to determine the minimum distance between residential buildings and a wind power plant, it will be necessary to carry out a strategic environmental impact assessment, which examines, among other things, the impact of noise emissions on the surrounding area and the health of residents.
- The ban on the construction of residential buildings near already existing wind power plants has been lifted.
- A minimum distance between wind power plants and electricity transmission lines has been introduced which will be calculated according to a formula specified in the Law.
- Provisions prohibiting the construction of a wind power plant at a distance of less than 10H from national parks and less than 500 m from nature reserves have been retained.
- Additional obligations have been established for technical activities relevant to ensuring the safe operation of technical elements of wind power plants which will include employing only certified maintenance contractors who will be entered in a register kept by the President of the Office of Technical Inspection.
- The investor will be required to offer at least 10% of the installed capacity of the wind power plant to residents of the municipality who will use the energy produced by the plant on a virtual prosumer basis. Each resident will be able to take a share of no more than 2 kW and receive energy at a price resulting from the calculation of the maximum construction cost.
According to experts' forecasts, with the introduction of a minimum distance of 700 meters between wind power plants and residential buildings, up to 4 GW of new power from wind power plants will be generated by 2030.
The amendments to the Law are one of 37 milestones of which Poland is expected to meet in order to comply with the requirements under the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Following the adoption of the Law by the Sejm, the next legislative step is to send it to the Senat (the upper house of the Polish parliament) which will be able to introduce its own amendments. Due to the energy crisis in the Polish and European markets, it is anticipated that the amendment will come into effect in the upcoming months.