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PV Demand Analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative: Poland of Central and Eastern Europe

Poland Country Profile

Poland has an estimated population of 38 million. In recent years, the country has experienced positive economic growth. Following the implementation of policy of economic liberalization, Poland’s domestic demand has increased. In 2018, the country’s GDP growth rate reached 5.1%, making it one of the countries with the fastest growing economy in the EU. Moreover, since Poland is right next to Western Europe and it has lower labor costs as well as high quality of labor and investment environment, Poland is viewed as a gateway to the Western European markets.

Solar radiation varies from region to region in Poland. It ranges from 900-1,000/kWh per square meter in northern Poland and 1,100-1,200/kWh per square meter in central and southern Poland.

Renewable energy development in Poland

Since Poland wanted to reduce its long-term dependence on coal, the nation has started developing renewable energy a decade ago. Between 2009 and 2010, Poland prepared and submitted its National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) outlining commitments and initiatives for achieving its renewable energy target set by the EU. The economic growth in recent years has spurred energy demand in the country, making renewable resources one of the key energy developments in Poland.

Poland published a draft document of “Energy Policy of Poland until 2024 ( PEP2040)” in November 2018, stipulating the country’s goal of sourcing 15% and 27% of electricity from renewable energies by 2020 and 2030, respectively. Under draft PEP2040, Poland mainly focuses on developing solar PV, wind power, biomass and biogas.

In order to achieve the target, the Polish government has set the installation target for each renewable energy project. See below table for installation targets:

Poland Proportion of renewable energy installation and generation

Source: 整理自PEP2040

Poland’s PV policy and development

1. Net-Metering Scheme

Poland’s net metering scheme is applicable to small PV systems with capacity not exceeding 40kW, of which, projects with a capacity up to 10kW are refunded 80% for each kilowatt they feed into the grid, while systems ranging between 10 kW and 40kW are refunded 70%.

2. Renewable Energy PPA auction

After mid-2016, Poland replaced the system of green certificates with PPA auction. So far, Poland has held three rounds of auctions, with the lowest bid sitting at PLN195/MWh (~US$52.6/MWh). See below table for the results of tender:

Poland Renewable Energy Auction

In the early days of solar development, Poland mainly used net metering scheme and green certificates to stimulate solar PV demand, which mainly came from residential or C&I distributed generation systems. There were barely any utility-scale projects. As Poland has started developing renewable energy quite early, the installed capacity of C&I distributed projects is much higher than that of utility-scale projects.

Poland PV Cumulative installation

The Polish government decided to rule out green certificates at the end of June 2016 and replaced it with auction model. So far, it has held three rounds of auctions and one tender for large-scale wind and solar. Judging from projects mentioned earlier, winning bidders of the Round 3 solar auction may start developing projects this year.

Poland-China trade: Module imports and exports

According to PV InfoLink’s China customs database, the number of Chinese modules shipped to Poland started to increase significantly after Europe terminated MIP in September 2018.

By Q1 2019, Chinese module shipment to Poland has reached 22.5MW. Some of these modules may be used in projects awarded in auction held last November.

Despite the small volume of shipment so far, Poland’s module demand is expected to grow in the future considering there are projects to be completed and installation targets to be achieved for 2020 and 2025.

China Module Export Shipment to Poland

Conclusion

From net metering scheme and green certificates to the phase-out of the later and the introduction of PPA auction, Poland finally started seeing an increase in utility-scale projects. Up to this year, the country has awarded projects through three rounds of auctions. As Poland still has a ways to go before meeting its renewable targets, more auctions for utility-scale projects are expected to be held in the future.

Looking ahead to the future, there’s great potential in Poland for solar based on the current policy framework. In order to achieve the target, the Polish government is expected to hold more auctions. By then, installation and demand from utility-scale projects will surpass that from C&I distributed projects that are applicable to net metering scheme.

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