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Poland needs updated network to boost wind power

  Poland must upgrade its power transmission network and update laws to aid the development of wind power as part of a shift from heavily polluting coal, an industry lobby said on Thursday.

Poland gets more than 90% of its electricity from coal, while just 7% of the 150 million megawatt hours of annual power production comes from renewable sources.

“The problem of wind energy in Poland is not the one of no willing investors...but the lack of connections to the network and the transmission links themselves,” Jaroslaw Mroczek, head of the Polish Wind Energy Association, told a seminar. „On top of that, there are no changes to legislation, which would encompass the specificity of such investments,” he said.

Poland’s transmission network is mostly outdated and a large part reaches back to communist times more than two decades ago. Experts say it has to be replaced shortly to prevent more blackouts in the European Union’s biggest ex-communist economy.

Mroczek also said current regulations are blocking the development of wind farms off the Baltic coast. State-owned grid operator PSE Operator, as well as other companies that manage the transmission system, say they are receiving a growing number of requests to connect wind power plans to the network.

Mroczek said most have been rejected. He also cautioned that Poland was unlikely to meet its target of producing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 as part of a European Union aim to derive 20% of its energy from such sources.

Poland’s Deputy Environment Minister Bernard Blaszczyk told the seminar in Katowice, the heart of Poland’s coal producing region of Silesia, that biofuels would remain the country’s main renewable energy source for the years to come. (Reuters)