Poland Builds Electronic Wall To Keep Out German Renewables

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Originally published on RenewEconomy

Poland, the host of the climate change negotiations, is going to extreme lengths to protect its coal-fired electricity industry — making sudden changes to renewable energy support schemes, and even going so far as erecting a form of electronic barrier to keep renewable energy from neighbouring Germany out of its grid.

The move appears to have been made with the sole intention of protecting the economic interests of its incumbent, centralised, and heavily coal-reliant grid. As Germany roars towards a decentralised, renewables-based grid, Poland appears determined to stick to the past. The contrast between the two countries could not be starker.

The move to install equipment knows as phase-shifters on transmission links between Poland and Germany is designed to give the Polish grid operator the power to block excess renewables output from Germany entering the Polish grid. As in Germany, a large amount of renewable energy causes wholesale prices to come down, and profits to fall.

The phase-shifters are being tested in coming months and will be installed over the next year by the German network operator 50Hertz, which looks after the grid in the eastern past of the country adjoining Poland. Ironically, 50Hertz is 40 per cent owned by Australia’s Industry Funds Management, which in turn owns Pacific Hydro, Australia’s biggest specialist renewable energy company.

Grzegorz Wisniewski , the president of the Institute for Renewable Energy, says the move is clearly designed to protect the income of the incumbent generators in Poland, and comes as the country is facing a looming energy deficit in a few years time.

“This is such a short-term strategy,” Wisniewski told RenewEconomy. “We should be making the connections bigger, and opening the market up, not closing it,” Wisniewski says, noting that the state-owned utilities returned 10 billion Polish zlotys last year. “They are treating it like an extra tax.”

The move comes as Poland’s own renewable energy development grinds to a halt, hit by changing rules and a lack of policy support, and a renewable energy scheme that has encouraged coal-fired generators to burn biomass to generate green credits.

Poland has a nominal 19 per cent renewable energy target for electricity by 2020, a target imposed by EU 20/20/20 regulations, that requires the economic bloc to reduce emissions by 20 per cent, have 20 per cent renewables, and cut demand by 20 per cent by 2020.

Right now, Poland’s renewable share is just over 10 per cent, but nearly half of this has been provided by “co-firing” at coal-fired generators, who are importing biomass from 50 different countries, including coconut shells from Africa, to generate green credits.

Co-firing accounts for more than 46 per cent of the renewable energy certificates issued so far (its quota scheme is similar to Australia’s). Even the hardline Economic Ministry thinks co-firing is inefficient. Worse, it has flooded the market with certificates, causing their price to fall and making it harder for wind and solar developers to get their projects financed.

What’s more, the government has announced yet another change in its renewable energy policy, declaring just three days ago that the quota system will be scrapped and replaced with an auctioning system – likely to favour the large utilities at the expense of independent power operators.

“This is the worst time in 25 years in Poland for renewables,” Wisniewski says. “This government is doing everything it can not to implement the EU directives.”

Part of the 22MW Sciecki wind farm,

Jacek Bladek, the asset management director of GEO Renewables, agrees.

We visited his company’s 22MW Sciecki wind farm (pictured, right) about 80kms south-west of Warsaw, which came into operation early last year. But the prospects for future projects are dim.

“We are going through a difficult time, the industry effectively stopped two years ago,” he says.

Bladek says his company has 1GW of wind projects in the pipeline, and across the country there are around 8GW. Even the grid operator says that up to 8GW can be installed with no problem for grid integrity, so the issue is entirely economic (for the incumbent generators), not technical.

“There is plenty of room on the grid,” he says. Poland is yet to even tap its large resources of offshore wind.

Coal is given primacy in this country. WWF calculates that 95 billion zlotys (around $A30 billion) of subsidies since 1995 have gone to coal, but Poland’s coal reserves are declining rapidly, at least the economically accessible ones. The country already imports 15 per cent of its coal needs, much of this from Siberia.

Wisniewski says the Polish government’s official forecasts are for coal to supply 65 per cent of electricity in 2060. But given its declining reserves, that is impossible. Experts say that within 20 years, the country could be entirely reliant on imports because its own reserves would be too expensive.

Recently, the Poland government ordered the state generation company to build a massive $3.75 billion coal plant, even though the company’s CEO said it would cause the company to lose money because of the high domestic price of coal.

But such is the politics of coal in this country.  The right-wing government of Donald Tusk is no fan of renewables, but its attitude pales compared to the even harder right Law and Justice Party, which is favoured to win power in elections. Tusk’s majority has been hit by defections and it now stands at just two.

Krzysztof Tyszkiewicz, a recently retired MP and member of Tusk’s party, says there are few pro-renewable MPs in parliament. “The environmental issue is not important in Poland,” he says.

Organisations such as WWF say it is even worse than unimportant. “When you say that we could live without coal, people look at you as though you’ve just killed their mother,” says Tobiasz Adamczewski, an energy expert from WWF Poland. “But we are going to run out of economically viable coal in 20 years. We are not saying that existing plants should close, but the transition has to happen.” Adamczewski says the organisation is turning its focus away from lobbying the government to appealing to the people directly, with a campaign branded “Yes, Poland can!”

Coal-fired generators are in the firing line, though. Indeed, EU emissions regulations will force the closure of up to 8GW of aging, dirty, coal-fired generation. This is likely to cause an energy deficit.

The Institute for Renewable Energy suggests 88 per cent of the country’s electricity needs could be delivered by renewables (50 per cent wind and 30 per cent solar PV), by 2050.

Right now, it is a long way from that. It has about 2,800MW of onshore wind, around the same as Australia, but just over 1MW of grid-connected solar.

Half of Poland’s solar PV installation.

Near the Sciecki wind farm, we also visited an 800kW solar farm at Czerniewice, which, when connected next year, will double the installed capacity of on-grid solar in Poland.

But the developers, Polish company Projekt-SolarTechnik, are facing difficulties. They built the 1.3 million solar farm on the basis that draft legislation would be introduced giving greater incentives to solar installations. But it never went through.

The company, which has built more than 50MW of solar plants in Germany, is losing money on the project, and says it would probably make more money growing wheat, which is what the 2 hectare farm area used to be used for.

“Somebody has to be the first mover,” said sales manager Bartlomiej Susik.

Indeed, about 200 business were set up in anticipation of the feed in tariffs, a huge conference was held in Poland, but resentment from Tusk’s junior partner, the Peasants Party, ultimately killed the bill.

All but a handful of solar farms have disappeared since that plan was rejected, hoping that the costs of solar will fall enough to allow more solar farms to be built anyway. But the industry needs momentum, and Wisniewski says, the utilities are up to old tricks.

The government recently agreed that solar systems under 40kW that lower the price of energy could be installed on the rooftops of homes and businesses with no connection fee.

But the network operators have frustrated installations by insisting application forms be stamped by a certified installer. But there is no such certification system in Poland, so no connections are being made.

That’s not dissimilar to a ruse used by another utility against GEO Renewables. They won approval for a new wind farm, but the utility insisted that the project deliver 45 per cent of its output within “peak hours” of 8am to 8pm, or face a penalty.  “That’s not even in the regulations,” Bladek said.

But Wisniewski says such actions  — including the creation of a “Berlin Wall” type barrier to keep out German green energy — are just delaying the inevitable. “They can stop renewables for a few years, but not forever.”

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

45 thoughts on “Poland Builds Electronic Wall To Keep Out German Renewables

  • Poland should really consider nuclear energy, now that time is running out. Building solar panels is a joke in sun scarce Poland, and wind alone isn’t going to fill the gap.

    • Here’s what nuclear energy has done to “accelerate” the “evolution” of Humans thanks to the 300 year “gift” that Pandora’s Nuclear Box just keeps giving and giving.

      Cesium-137 Genetically Modified Human

      • Hey Agelbert, nothing looks as good as a set of solar panels on the roof and a bank of deep cycle batteries to store the energy in.

        • Especially when they are already paid for with Utility savings.
          I refer to that as energy Freedom…

        • and a dirty mess at the Chinese

          rare earth production facility.

      • Just so you know, coal power plants release 100 times more radioactive material into the air when burned(mostly uranium thorium and polonium . This settles into all our water and soil, and coal has been burning a LOT longer and there are LOT more of them than Nuclear plants.
        A few releases of radiation from nuclear accidents is no match for the amount of radiation we have pumped into our food, water supply, and our bodies from coal for all these many decades….not by a long shot.
        But most modern plants do catch most of it now, but the damage has been done.
        Oh, and don’t forget the radon gas that is almost completely released into the air….good stuff.

        • Fukushima makes your nuclear pitch mute.

          Can Poland afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster, like Japan now has, not to mention the radioactive landscape?

        • Thankfully we have technology that lets us avoid both coal and nuclear generation.

          We do not need to use either and introduce their dangers into our lives.

          Let’s just leave both behind and get on with the doing the job correctly. Enough with the dangerous, expensive coal and nuclear stuff.

          • What is that wonder technology and when was it invented?

        • Just so you know!, There has never been a case of a severely muted human baby from people that live in coal country.

          And coal is a false comparison anyway! Was that in your propaganda 101 course to always try say “coal ” is worse as if we have either coal or nuclear?

          Don’t you ever get tired of repeating the same low IQ propaganda lies? Do you understand how Cesium-137 is immediately taken up in all the muscle tissue of mammals because our biochemistry believes it is the much needed nutrient called Potassium?

          I guess not. You will reap what you have sown. Count on it. Have a nice day.

          What a Nuclear Power Plant really is

          • Oh I know exactly how bad it is. I also know that the CDC and WHO traveled the world examining bodies and came up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 MILLION people die in the world EVERY year from the affects of pollution. Of which a very large percentage comes from coal.

            I don’t care if the Japanese packed up and walked away from Fukushima today and never went back it would never reach the yearly death toll that coal has. Coal just isn’t considered as dangerous because it doesn’t cause the visible affects that radiation can. Does not make it safer, not by a long shot.

            If 3 million are dying yearly, just imagine what it is doing to EVERY human it doesn’t kill. Also before coal was in widespread use for home heating cancer was actually pretty rare in the world. And chimney sweeps(coal not wood) were the first to develop occupational cancer, (of the scrotum no less) in the mid-late 1700’s. After that cancer began a steady rise. I know of no study that links a rise in world wide cancers to nuclear plants coming online, or even enough of a local rise where nuclear accidents have happened to even panic over when compared to the overall cancer rates.

            In 2006 Greenpeace(and we know what they’re full of) released a report from 52 “respected” scientists on the affects of Chernobyl and even they found that less than 200,000 extra deaths could be attributed to Chernobyl in what? 15 or so years? Way over 7 MILLION people die every year from cancer. Even that retarded organizations inflated numbers(always about everything) barely amount to a statistical anomaly. Fukushima is going to have to be MUCH more deadly to have any kind of real impact on cancer rates. But we know for a fact that coal has killed many many millions of people around the world.

            But yes, we would do well to get rid of both nuclear and coal. But based on the science and deaths, coal needs to be gotten rid of first, and the sooner the better, since it’s affects will likely last for many generations to come.

          • “But yes, we would do well to must get rid of both nuclear and coal.”


            But you fail to recognize the nuclear corruption rabbit hole in regard to the Agreement the WHO has with the IAEA to not publish any epidemiological study of cancer clusters around nuclear power plants, internal dosage differences in DNA destruction far below the IAEA “safe dosage levels for radionuclides in food, and much more that has contributed to the deaths of over 8 million human beings since Chernobyl alone!

            WHO has been hamstrung by the IAEA for over half a century! Do the math. If the “horror” of coal was so much worse than nuclear, why has the WHO been gagged by the IAEA but not the king coal?

            Take just 8 minutes of your time and watch this French video with English subtitles. Learn the truth. Then look at this map of Cesium-137 deposition in the USA before Fukushima. It’s much worse now and cesium-137 does not exist in nature. Do you think our cancer rate went from one in ten in the 1950s to one in three now because of coal? Coal is much more “profitable” than nuclear power but only the nuke pukes could muzzle the WHO. Why? Because if the truth was known, all nuclear power plants would be forced to close, period. It was never about cheap electricity. It was always about making plutonium for bombs off the public dime and to hell with the DNA destruction of children and population cancer clusters. The nuclear industry, like the fossil fuel industry, externalized the health costs that have degraded human DNA in order to make bombs and some money. You do not get more low down than that!

            You have no idea whatsoever about the massive damage already baked into our DNA from this nuclear monstrosity. Both fossil fuel burning and nuclear fission must be ended if we are to survive on this planet. The more immediate danger is nuclear. Watch the video and do the research on the cruel, conscience free “agreement” between the WHO and IAEA that has done uncountable damage to Homo sapiens for the sake of nuclear profits.

            Out of about 8,000 people at the WHO, two were assigned to work on radionuclide effects and safe dosages! That’s criminal insanity!

          • I am sitting by a coal fire now, without it I could not stay in the house with the cold..

    • Time is running out for what exactly?

      Time and time again, nuclear has proven to be a most dangerous source of energy with a very dangerous waste product, the mere assumption of having this waste, has been used as an excuse for nations to go to war (non existent WMD Iraq) and is being used to start a fresh war against Iran.

      Nuclear is out, Renewable energy is in.

      • Yes I agree, we will see globally those countries that actually have Leaders that want to do what is best for their people all rush to install as much Solar (of all flavors) as they can, since it will only cost more in the future to do it, as the materials to do it become ever more expensive!

        • Countries everywhere are privatizing electricity and making it more expensive, let’s not underestimate the effects of the TPP and it’s variants, under TPP corporations can challenge existing laws to suit their own financial agenda which can be counter productive to alternative clean energy sources.

          • Yeah, that’s going to be a big powder-keg just waiting for a match.

          • Perhaps one way would be to SALUTE the Leaders that are helping their people MOVE TOWARD GREEN ENERGY; instead of enslaving their people to costly, RISKY nuclear power.

          • The thing is that the TPP is that If the public actually knew what is inside the TPP they would strongly object, all we know about the TPP is due to the leaked content, and that has set off alarm bells that are ringing all around the world and identified the TPP for what it is, a succession of corporate coup d’etat’s designed to make governments accountable to the financial agenda of over 600 un-elected, fictional entities with an unlimited lifespan and a greed to match, more deciding influence over government matters than the entire voting public ever had.

            Under TPP corporations will be able to challenge existing law’s and constitutions.

            The TPP is designed to make governments accountable to their own financial agenda and forecast, and will allow them to sue for financial compensation in a closed tribunal if a TPP member government does not fall into line.

            Under TPP there will be no GMO identifying labels on any food products.

            Under TPP corporations can demand for existing protected wilderness area’s to be opened up for mineral exploration.

            Under TPP corporations can demand lower wages.

            Under TPP corporations can demand just about anything they want at taxpayers expense.

            Here are a couple of links to other sites with more information as well as some video’s, hope this helps you.

            Don’t Let Them Trade Away Our Internet Freedoms: Speak Out Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement! https://action.eff.org/o/9042/

            Link to leaked text on public citizen http://citizen.typepad.com/eye

            Alan Greyson becomes first member of US congress to view TPPhttp://graysonforcongress.com/…

            Malaysia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Global research http://www.globalresearch.ca/m

            More Power to Corporations to Attack Nations (public citizen)


            Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises (Huffpost) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

            Upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership Looks Like Corporate Takeover (Opednews) http://www.opednews.com/articl

            Secretive TPP Talks Re-Commence in Lima, Peru: They Can Shut Us Out, But They Can’t Shut Us Up (Electronic frontier foundation)https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/…

            SOA Trains The Military Muscle To Enforce “Free Trade” In Latin Americahttp://www.soaw.org/about-the-…

            Stop CAFTA 2008 Report “DR-CAFTA: Effects and Alternatives”http://www.stopcafta.org/stop-…

            Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Bad for Jobs, the Environment, Labor and Consumers http://itsoureconomy.us/occupy

            Stop the TPP it’s like NAFTA on steroids http://stoptpp.org/

            The Biggest Secret Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard Of, Explained (Mother Jones) http://www.motherjones.com/pol

            The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Global Coalition of Big Business Actors (Global reseach) http://www.globalresearch.ca/t

            Congress’ Copyright Cowards: the Members Who Could Betray Internet Users (Electronic frontier foundation) https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/

            The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) Huge Impact on Kiwis (It’s our future) http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz

            TPP: A Deregulation Treaty Not A Trade Treaty (Our future)http://ourfuture.org/20130523/…

            Obama’s Covert Trade Deal (NY Times)http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06…

            Trans-Pacific Partnership and Monsanto (Nation of change)http://www.nationofchange.org/…

            Expose the TPP (Expose the TPP) http://www.exposethetpp.org/

            Monsanto to outlaw GMO labelling (Hang the bankers)http://www.hangthebankers.com/…

        • Indeed, and I’ve never been able to figure out why everyone is so gung-ho to install photovoltaic systems while almost totally ignoring the best bang for the buck in solar today. Solar water heaters are an easy DIY project that takes but a weekend, contains no moving parts(but a small electric pump and valve does increase efficiency a bit), and if you’re a little decent at scrounging can be built for under $200(roughly $300 if everything is bought new). It’s easy to tie in to your existing water heater, and on a good sunny winter day can add around 80-120 Degrees to the water(depending on location) and in spring summer and most of the fall you basically won’t even use the heating element in the water heater if the sun shines even half a day.

          • Yes, I agree, for almost everyone, a solar “pre” water heater (along with insulating all the hot water lines) is indeed the best, most cost effective thing to install and certainly it would be a great addition to all solar roofs.
            I’d also suggest a small recirculation pump to keep hot water from being wasted, by pumping the water in the hot water lines, that has cooled off, back to the cold side of the water heater, in order to have hot water ready immediately at the faucet, instead of just letting it run down the drain until it heats up! This saves both energy and water, both of which are becoming ever more expensive!

            So many roof and so much ENERGY going to waste, daily!

          • Any renewable energy is ok provided it is not connected to the mains grid

      • balony

    • Yeah sure. Pay no attention to historical disasters from going nuclear and set Poland up for potential meltdown. Nice idea, NOT. You also forgot that nuclear relies heavily on fossil fuels and water to function and that’s before we talk about risks and hazards of going nuclear.

      • “You also forgot that nuclear relies heavily on fossil fuels and water to
        function and that’s before we talk about risks and hazards of going

        You mean like how expensive it is?

        • Nuclear energy has its hidden costs. The only reason it’s artificially “cheaper” than solar is the rigged market dubbed “free”. In a real market, solar would be whopping coal’s and nuclear’s arses to the twilight zone.


    • That’s fine. But not all caps, please.

    • Can’t boycott them as we don’t buy from them.

      • Tell us how you are heating your house right now?

    • Boycott OPEC first….not fair to say that when Poland is still struggling after the end of communism.

  • When Germany can shut French Nuclear power and its Siemens company can break the nuclear alliance with French Areva, there is nothing wrong in Poland shutting down the German Renewables.

    • How does Germany “shut French nuclear”?

      • More baloney. without French nuclear, Germany would be in the dark when the wind dies down.

  • “The company, which has built more than 50MW of solar plants in Germany, is losing money on the project, and says it would probably make more money growing wheat, which is what the 2 hectare farm area used to be used for.”

    To be fair to Poland though, they still have some catching up to do with their economy after the collapse of communism. Unlike Germany, their government don’t have the generous cash reserve needed to subsidize wind and solar. I heard they are exploring shale gas…any update on that?

  • Good Luck Poland, your ratepayers will see ever increasing rates and/or costs while your Decision Makers and your Utility shareholders profit for many decades.


    Nuclear offers a very long income stream for those that run and/or operate it, which is a huge incentive to building them in Countries where Political Leaders/Decision makers are prone to accepting BIG donations in return for project approvals.

    Not so important to them, but vitally important to their ratepayers/end users is that because they have to use nuclear, they become enslaved to their Utilities for many, many decades, instead of being able to become energy independent, after the initial payback period, an option which Solar (of all flavors) offers.

    Also left unmentioned is the huge RISK that using nuclear entails should anything go wrong, something the Japanese now know all to well!

    With the prices of Solar (of all flavors) dropping monthly, while nuclear spirals ever upward it is easy to see which countries leaders are thinking more about providing for their own income stream than they are about providing safe, low cost energy to the people that they were elected/appointed to serve…

    Some of the above was submitted here:


    • Why is everybody going cracked about producing electricity? We need some, just enough! How does such a policy do good. Why not go mad producing bananas or golf clubs?

      • Because using nuclear is ONLY god for the Utility owners not for the ratepayers and that is if everything works OK, if something goes BAD then it could turn into a Fukushima, what is that “worth” to you Countrymen?

  • Coal or nuclear, both are equally dangerous. In times like these, Reagan’s “tear down this wall” speech can be used against coal “protectionists” such as Poland.

  • Wow, what nonsense! The reason for the Polish blocking system has NOTHING do to with prices or protecting the coal plants and everything to do with being able to maintain Polish grid stability.
    Educate yourself a bit before you spout this nonsense.

    • Perfectly correct. Erratic wind energy has no market value, it cannot be used on its own, the user must burn fuel or nuclear to keep the lights on while consumers pay to turn off wind. If the poles allow German wind in, they have to pay German wind generators to turn it off. So they dont allow it in, saves money and forces the Germans to pay curtailed fees. Clever

  • If wind is such a great idea, why is Germany not using all their own and why are they burning more coal than ever before? Why are they criticizing Poland when they are not using their renewables? The reason is that renewable generated electricity has no economic value.

Comments are closed.