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Poland’s onshore wind energy potential estimated at 41.4 GW, new report finds

There is nearly a 20 gigawatts (GW) difference in Poland’s wind energy potential depending on whether the wind farm regulations are amended, according to a new report on onshore wind potential which was presented at the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) 2024 Conference in Świnoujście.

By changing the regulation to a 500-meter minimum distance, Poland could achieve 41.4 GW of wind capacity, whereas, without changes, the potential is only 22.19 GW. This stark difference underscores the urgent need for clean energy.

Miłosz Motyka, Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment, highlighted that years of hindering renewable energy investments and the myths surrounding this sector have significantly delayed the energy transformation.

“We all recognise that a sustainable energy mix must include renewable sources and nuclear energy,” added Deputy Minister Motyka.

Wind energy could generate 200,000 jobs, but educational programs for future workers in the renewable energy sector are needed.

“We prioritise cooperation with companies and entrepreneurs because teachers, especially in vocational and technical schools, are often not keeping pace with these changes,” emphasised Barbara Nowacka, Minister of Education.”The curriculum for technicians operating renewable energy devices needs revision and we plan to discuss this with the industry this year.”

PWEA assessed the current onshore wind potential due to growing expectations for Poland’s energy transformation and the need to update strategic documents. The PEP2040 update proposal from the previous government set the 2030 onshore wind capacity at 14.5 GW. However, the NECP document from the new government coalition now targets nearly 16 GW by 2030.

To realise this potential, existing wind farms, with a total capacity exceeding 10 GW, must be considered, leaving a feasible potential of 12 GW (700 metres) or 31 GW (500 metres) over the next 16 years.

“The results highlight the urgent need to amend the Wind Farm Act, especially regarding distance regulations,” explained Janusz Gajowiecki, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association. “This change will unblock onshore wind investments, unlocking the benefits of affordable, green energy and enabling Poland to meet ambitious EU renewable energy targets. Further delays are detrimental to society, the economy and the climate.”

The theoretical potential for onshore wind farm locations covers about 3.3 per cent of Poland’s area, indicating a potential installed capacity of 118 GW (500 metres distance) with a production of 360 terawatt-hours (TWh). With current 700 metres restrictions, this potential drops to 1.7 per cent of the area, equating to 63 GW and 195 TWh per year. Environmental and economic constraints reduce the theoretical potential by 65 per cent.

“Our analysis considers legislative, planning, environmental conditions and land with valuation classes I-III, which limit wind investment locations. The results showcase Poland’s full onshore wind potential, which depends on legal regulations, administrative efficiency and resolving grid operation challenges,” added Weronika Kupczyk, an onshore specialist at PWEA.

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