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Poland’s renewable power investments on the rise

10 January 2021 Kevin Adler

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said that 2019 and 2020 have marked substantial progress in helping wean Poland from its heavy dependence on coal-fired power.

Coal is the source of about 80% of the country's annual energy production, but EBRD said that it was involved in mutiple new renewable energy project financings in the last two years that represent more than 500 MW of new power. Also, the country saw the commissioning of the 220-MW Potegowo Plant, one of the largest wind farms in the country, supplied with 81 GE turbines, and backed by a loan of Polish zlotny (PLN) 200 million (about US$53 million).

Poland has a strategy to reduce its fossil fuel dependency through 2040, which includes a target of 21% of total energy consumption from renewables by 2030 (27% in the power sector). The country is projected by IHS Markit to be at about 16%-17% renewable power for 2020.

"It is expected that growth in offshore wind, rather than onshore wind, will deliver the electricity target. A potential of up to 8 GW has been identified in the Baltic Sea. Poland is aiming for the development of the first offshore wind farm in 2025," wrote IHS Markit senior analyst Zoe Grainge in an analysis of Poland's energy profile.

EBRD returned to financing renewables projects in Poland in 2019 with the Potegowo project mentioned above and six projects being developed by Quadran Wind (total capacity: 193 MW).

The 2020 projects are:

  • Qair projects. French energy development firm Qair signed a loan agreement with EBRD that will enable it to develop 200 MW of wind and solar projects.
  • Debsk Wind Farm. Approved in June, the PLN 200 million (about US$53 million) loan will support a new 121 MW wind farm, expected to be operational in 2021.
  • Taaleri Wind Poland. Approved in June, this PLN 118 million (US$31.5 million) project is being developed by Polish energy companies and Abu Dhabi-based Masdar. It will develop two wind farms with total capacityof 51.4 MW.
  • WKN Pomerania Wind. Approved in October, this PLN 177.5 million (US$47 million) loan will support construction of two wind farms with total capacity of 58.8 MW.

Also, EBRD subscribed for PLN 240 million (US$63.8) in five-year bonds issued by power company Tauron Polska Energia to finance upgrades to its power distribution network.

Tauron is the largest transmission provider in the country, handling 36% of power transmission volume in 2019. "Overall, the expected primary energy saving from the Bank's investment are expected to reach 26,404 MWh per annum. Furthermore, the investment is expected to lead to GHG savings of 20,569 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year per the Bank's calculations," EBRD said.

With the funds supporting a total investment over five years of PLN 1 billion zloty (US$270 million), Tauron has committed to using none of the funds on coal-related power projects.

Posted 10 January 2021 by Kevin Adler, Editor, Energy and Natural Resources Group, IHS Markit

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