March 4. 2024. 6:25

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Polish parliament votes 700 metre rule for wind turbines

The Polish parliament backtracked on Thursday (9 March) on a proposal to boost onshore wind capacity, mandating that wind turbines be located at a minimum distance of 700 metres from residential buildings.

Poland has some of the strictest rules on wind farm construction in the European Union, and relaxing zoning rules on wind farm investment has been a milestone the country must overcome to unlock billions of euros of EU recovery funds.

Current Polish rules have practically blocked land for investment in new turbines since 2016, when the ruling Law and Justice party mandated that a turbine should be a minimum distance of 10 times its height away from residential buildings.

After years of consulting with onshore wind investors, the government last year proposed to reduce that minimum distance to 500 metres in a bid to spur investment, and tabled it in parliament to unlock the EU funds.

However, last month the ruling majority in the lower house amended it higher again to 700 metres, without presenting an impact assessment of the change.

Poland’s controversial wind energy law voted on this week

The Polish Parliament is working to amend the country’s infamous wind turbine act, which currently blocks onshore wind farm development in Poland, but critics say the new version does little to solve the problem.

On Thursday, a majority of lawmakers voted to reject the Senate amendment to reinstate the 500 metre distance initially proposed by the government, sealing the 700 metres rule. The vote was close with 231 voting against the 500 meter rule and 209 lawmakers voting in favour of it.

The change is holding back wind power potential in Poland and potentially exposes its economy to a competitive disadvantage, companies including Google, Mercedes, IKEA, Amazon, Siemens and Bosch said last week.

The amendment will slash potential onshore wind investments by 60-70%, effectively discouraging them, according to the Polish Wind Energy Association, which groups some 150 investors.

“It’s hard to find a justification why 700 meters should be a better rule than 500, it will have a huge impact on our portfolio of projects. In our case it was 700-800 MW, which will be reduced by about 40%,” Alicja Chilinska-Zawadzka, general manager at the Polish unit of EDF Renewables, told Reuters.

Poland passes judiciary, wind farm laws in bid to unlock EU funds

Poland’s parliament on Wednesday (8 February) passed two pieces of legislation the government hopes will unblock billions in European Union funds, but doubts remained over whether the president would sign the judicial reform bill into law.