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Poland Makes Moves Into Europes Big League

The only country in the EU to have emerged from the economic crisis without going into recession is in rude financial health – as is its wind energy economy. For now. PES investigates.

In November last year, Siemens Energy announced that it had received orders worth €880m in the wind power industry since July; a total of 16 projects from more than 270 onshore wind turbines. South Africa was one of the main sources of this business, while there were also projects in Sweden, UK and Denmark – and incongruously, Poland.

Why incongruously? The European nation hasn’t been enjoyed a particularly healthy wind power industry – until recently. Poland generates around 90 percent of its electricity from coal. To meet European Union regulations on carbon emissions, the former Soviet-bloc nation has to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 15 per cent by 2020.

In October 2012, Megawatt OMS, a joint-venture of Austria’s RP Global and European infrastructure fund Marguerite, secured 555 million zlotys ($171 million) financing for the development of wind farms in Poland. The financing deal came as the European Union nation is overhauling its green energy support system and plans to cut support for onshore wind farms.
“The deal was possible only because we combined the new projects with a project that is already operating under the old regulations,” RP Global Chief Executive Gerhard Matzinger told a news conference.

The loans, of which 330 million zlotys will finance a new 54-megawatt wind farm located in the north of the country, will be granted equally by Poland’s top lender PKO BP and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The rest will go toward refinancing loans granted by other banks for the development of a 50-megawatt project, which began operating in 2010.
The country’s renewable energy drive has so far focused mainly on onshore wind farms and biomass co-firing, which involves mixing wood and other plant material with coal before it is burned in coal-fired power stations.

In September, Poland’s biggest wind power project to date was announced when REpower Systems SE and WSB Neue Energien GmbH signed a contract for the delivery and construction of 22 REpower MM92 wind turbines. The turbines, each with a rated power of 2.05 megawatts (MW), are intended for the Taczalin project near Legnica in the Polish province of Lower Silesia. Construction and commissioning of the wind farm, which will have a total power output of 45.1 MW, are scheduled for completion in August 2013.


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