The EU climate and energy package assumes that Poland will produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Countries may face severe financial penalties for failing to meet the targets set out in the climate and energy package. Due to irresponsible changes made to Polish law, wind farms suffered from serious financial problems in 2016 and 2017, as a result of which financing banks had to create reserves and make write-offs to update the value of their exposure to wind farms. This problem affected mainly Bank Ochrony Środowiska S.A. and Alior Bank S.A. In connection with the decrease in the profitability of wind power plants and the increase in bad debts, in 2016-2018 banks were reluctant to finance new investments in wind energy and they often increased the contribution required from entities seeking credit to over 50%. Many banks made strategic decisions not to finance wind investments at all.
In 2019, the financial situation of wind farms has improved significantly. This is due to favourable changes in the law, the significant increase in market prices of green certificates, and an increase in the wholesale prices of electricity. On 29 August, the Act of 19 July 2019 amending the Act on Renewable Energy Sources and certain other acts came into force, which improved the rules of the auction system, making it possible to unblock further auctions later this year and launch new investments in renewable energy sources. The amended regulations also changed some restrictions on the construction of new wind power plants. The validity of permits for the construction of new wind turbines issued before the entry into force of the Distance Act (requiring a distance of more than ten times the height of the wind turbine from the nearest building) has been extended until August 2024. In 2019, the Act amending the Agricultural Tax Act, the Local Tax and Fees Act, and the Forest Tax Act also entered into force. The Act clarifies the rules of taxation of land used by enterprises in connection with the establishment of infrastructure used, among other things, for the transmission of electricity, namely: the locating of such infrastructure on land not belonging to the enterprises owning the infrastructure will not affect the manner in which the land is taxed.
The aforementioned changes have led to an improvement in the profitability of wind farms and have resulted in banks once again deciding to finance them. For example, a consortium of five banks, including Pekao S.A. and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is financing the construction of the Potęgowo wind farm located in Pomerania with a total capacity of 220 MW. Construction started in early autumn last year and is expected to be completed in 2020. The Potęgowo power plant will consist of 81 GE wind turbines with a capacity of 2.5 MW and 2.75 MW.
However, the requirement to maintain a distance of ten times the height of the wind turbine from the nearest building still applies to new investments, and therefore there are no new locations for new wind farms and construction permits issued under the old rules are gaining in value. The current authorities are focusing on the construction of new wind farms at sea.