The renewable energy law (“RES Act”) came into force in Poland in May 2015 and, the auctions, which were originally scheduled to occur at the beginning of 2016, are now anticipated to occur on 1st July 2016.

Currently in Poland, the green certificates (certificates of origin) mechanism applies. After the new regulations enter into force, existing facilities will be entitled to choose to continue in the current support system or move to the new auction regime. New facilities (including any refurbishment of any existing facilities) will have to participate in the auction regime to obtain any support.

New developers will have to prequalify before they can enter into the auction. Operators of existing facilities who are interested in changing the support mechanism, will be exempt from the prequalification part of the procedure after submitting relevant declarations confirming that they are willing to enter into the new support system.

The prequalification procedure will be conducted by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office (“ERO”) and any interested developer will have to meet certain prequalification criteria and obtain a certificate to that effect.

Auctions will be conducted by the President of the ERO at least once a year. Separate auctions will be held for those renewable installations with installed capacities of up to 1MW and for those greater than 1MW.

Entities participating in auctions will make a bid in which they have to specify the price and volume of electricity to be sold. Bidders offering the lowest price will win the auction. The auction continues until the volume and value of the electricity until a specified budget and volume is reached. New installations will have to be constructed and initiated within 48 months following the auction (subject to 24 months for solar installations and 72 months for offshore wind farms).

The auction volume and reference prices (the maximum bid price) will be set prior to the first auction. The reference prices may be different for specific technologies and will differ based on installed capacity, i.e. for onshore wind generation below and over 1 MW of installed capacity, offshore wind generation.

Separate rules of support will apply to the so-called micro renewable installations with a total installed electrical capacity below 40 kW and which are connected to the grid with a rated voltage below 110 kV. The RES Act will introduce a guaranteed feed-in-tariff system for such installations.

The RES Act introduces new timeline for the support of renewable energy facilities. The power purchase agreement for both, new and current support system, will last for 15 years. For existing facilities using certificate of origin mechanism, the fifteen year period will commence retrospectively from the first generation for which a certificate of origin was issued.

The renewable energy sector is currently a hot topic in Poland. Besides the RES Act coming into force, further amendments are expected and also new regulations impacting on location of wind farms are being keenly debated.