Polish citizens to help meet country’s energy needs
6 August 2013, New Europe
A few days ago, the Polish parliament took a significant step towards securing the country’s resilience and sustainability when it comes to energy needs.
It’s nothing to do with coal reserves, or fracking for shale gas, or building more gas pipelines that do not come from Russia.
On the contrary, it is a technical act whose significance might get easily lost: an Energy Bill which allows individuals who are able to produce energy using small scale renewables they install themselves to sell their surpluses to the grid, without having to become business entities or obtain state licences. There are still pending questions regarding the profitability of such energy sales, but they could be sorted out if authorities introduce feed-in tariffs at appropriate levels.
The legal development is major, as it could encourage more people to construct their own small renewables installations in the knowledge that they can make a bit of money on the side if they do not use it all up for personal consumption.
Such decisions from consumers are not unlikely. In the last ten years, about 230,000 Polish households and other entities have invested a total of 6-7 billion PLN (over EUR 1.5 billion) in the purchase and installation of small scale renewables, according to a study published this July by the Polish Institute for Renewable Energy.
What’s more, a recent opinion poll conducted by TNS OBOP as commissioned by the Institute for Renewable Energy in March 2013 found that 45% of Poles want to have microinstallations of renewable energy in their households. The largest numbers of people already willing to invest in microgeneration are among farmers (56%), young persons (57%), those in active employment (53%), private entrepreneurs and managers/specialists (respectively, 70% and 61%).
Importantly, if Polish citizens are encouraged to take this kind of decision, then they could help the country meet its renewables target, which by 2020 should represent 15 percent of total energy consumption according to the national renewables strategy.
And this is important because, while up until now, Poland has been generally on track with meeting this target (the share of renewables was 8.3 percent in 2011 and 11.45 percent in 2012), almost half of this „renewable” energy is in fact coming from combustion of biomass in co-firing plants (coal and biomass).
In co-firing plants, it is possible to switch among various proportions of coal and biomass used, depending on external stimuli. For instance, when the value of green certificates awarded by a government becomes lower, producers would immediately reduce the biomass utilisation levels, burning more coal. This phenomenon has already been happening in Poland, and it can mean that the country’s meeting of the 15 percent target is by no means guaranteed or sustainable.
The alternative scenario is the one indicated by the Energy Bill passed these days. It would involve stimulating the development of real renewables and getting citizen support for this type of energy source. Financial resources to purchase and install the microrenewables could easily come from the EU Budget, which in the next budget period (2014-2020) claims to be focused more than ever on sustainability.
Institution: EU Funds
Theme: Energy & climate