Poland adopts bill amending renewable energy law to simplify administrative procedures


The Polish government has adopted a draft bill of the RES Amendment Act, which amends the Renewable Energy Sources Act (RES Act) and certain other acts, which partially implements the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) 2018/2001 of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of energy from renewable sources (RED II Directive) into the Polish legal order. The RES Amendment Act, which on 8 May was referred to the lower house of the Polish parliament (Sejm) for legislative work, contains regulations concerning the simplification of administrative procedures for the development of RES projects, regulations concerning the establishment of a RES National Contact Point (Krajowy Punkt Kontaktowy OZE) and regulations clarifying the conclusion of PPAs. The following article outlines the key changes to be introduced.

Simplification of administrative procedures

The RED II Directive imposes requirements on the administrative procedures in the RES investment process, which member states are obliged to meet. The regulatory environment measurably affects the conditions for the implementation of investments in renewable energy sources. One of the most important elements of an efficient investment process, besides the clarity and predictability of administrative decisions, is the length of administrative procedures, which can, in extreme cases, result in the withdrawal of an investment decision to undertake a project.

In the Polish system, several types of administrative procedures are identified, which have the greatest impact on the implementation time of investment projects and also affects the development of RES. In particular, the following should be pointed out here: environmental requirements, zoning planning requirements, time to obtain terms and conditions for connection and time to obtain relevant licences.

The RES Amendment Act will review existing procedures to introduce systemic solutions to facilitate the development of RES projects.

The first of the proposed changes concerns the simplification of procedures related to investments in photovoltaic micro-installations. Under the current legislation, the installation of PV micro-installations with a capacity of up to 50 kW does not require a building permit. The proposed changes assume that such an exemption will also cover larger PV installations. The introduction of an exemption from the need to obtain a building permit for larger photovoltaic installations is a requirement that must be introduced into Polish law in accordance with the RED II directive.  According to the changes proposed by the government, the exemption from the requirement to obtain a building permit will apply to photovoltaic installations with a capacity not exceeding 150 kW.

At the same time, the Polish government is preparing legislation to introduce additional preferences for obtaining a building permit for investments in prosumer wind power plants. According to a proposal prepared by the Ministry of Development and Technology, the construction parts of a 'small wind power plant', with a total height of between 3 and 12 metres and a power output not exceeding that of the micro-installation, will be added to the catalogue of investments exempt from a building permit but requiring notification. However, micro-wind installations up to three metres in height are to be exempted from planning permission and notification.

RES National Contact Point

At present, the provisions of the RES Act do not provide for the possibility of providing full information support to a prospective renewable energy producer.

Due to the requirements of REDII Directive, where Article 16, section 1 to 3, obliges member states to establish at least one contact point, the main objective of the RES Amendment Act concerning the establishment of the RES National Contact Point is to provide full information support on the complete administrative process for the implementation of RES to any entity that intends to start producing electricity from RES installations in Poland. As a result, the planned changes are intended to make it easier for prospective investors to obtain information on the initiation and conduct of procedures for the granting of permits and other necessary administrative procedures.

In line with the presented purpose of the RES National Contact Point, it will have a significant impact on the functioning of public administration bodies that currently provide substantive answers to questions related to administrative procedures. It is expected that many general requests for information on the administrative procedures required to start producing energy from renewable energy installations will be sent to the RES National Contact Point. In this way, it will relieve the competent public administration bodies of tasks by concentrating the knowledge and competence related to the provision of information in one place.

Power Purchase Agreements

The RES Amendment Act proposes clarifying the provisions related to power purchase agreements (PPAs). The provisions of the RED II Directive give flexibility to member states as to how to transpose the provisions related to a contract for the purchase of electricity, which has been generated from the RES directly from the producer. According to the proposed amendments, the PPA will be included in the set of agreements regulated in the Act of 10 April 1997 - Energy Law.

According to the text of the proposed provision, a PPA for the sale of electricity generated from the RES can be concluded directly between a producer and a customer. The execution of the PPA from the technical side will be possible in two ways. In the first case, the delivery of electricity can take place based on a transmission or distribution service agreement where the partners to this agreement have previously been connected to the national electricity grid. The second possibility assumes delivery of power by using a direct line within the meaning of the Energy Law.

In addition, the draft introduces a provision that requires a RES energy producer that has concluded a PPA to submit information on its conclusion to the President of the Energy Regulatory Authority. The collected data on the number of concluded PPAs should then be considered when the member state prepares progress reports on the implementation of national energy and climate plans.

The bill has been currently referred for first reading to the Committee on Energy, Climate and State Assets. It will then be referred for further work in the Sejm and, once enacted, to the Upper House of Parliament (Senat) and for signature by the President of the Republic of Poland.

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