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3. Regulations for the RES in the EU and in Poland

European Union policy concerning RES

The first general EU regulations on renewable energy were published in 1997. It was the European Commission’s White Paper ”Energy for the Future – renewable energy sources” (December 1997). On the other hand, in 2001 the European Parliament and the Council of Europe adopted Directive 2001/77/EC on the promotion of the internal market of electricity produced from renewable sources, setting share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in total electricity consumption in the EU by the year 2010 (later replaced by the Directive 28/2009/EC of European Parliament and Council of Europe). A breakthrough in the promotion of renewable energy was in 2006 after cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine, which affected many European countries. It was realized that it must be ensured throughout the EU energy security and diversify energy supplies to become independent from external suppliers. The first major step in this direction was in March 2006 the publication of so called Green Paper: European Strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy. The Commission singled out in it the six main priority areas of EU energy policy: completing construction of the internal European electricity and gas markets, the solidarity of the Member States, safety and competitiveness of energy supply, climate change, innovation in energy technology and a coherent external energy policy[1]. After almost a year of intergovernmental consultation on the proposals contained in the Green Paper, in January 2007 the Commission announced further proposals.

On January 10, 2007 the European Commission presented to the European Council and European Parliament a message in which has announced a package of actions that could lead to the establishment of the foundations for a common energy policy. It drew in it attention to the fact that the current energy policy does not guarantee reduction of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere. In its current form by 2030 the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, not only would not reduce, but would increase by 5 percent. In addition, by 2030 the EU dependency on energy imports would rise from the current 50 to 65 percent. In the case of resources such as oil and gas that dependence will be even higher – it will increase, respectively, from 82 to 93 percent and from 57 to 84 percent. The European Commission, citing the International Energy Agency (IEA), says that by 2030 global demand for oil would grow by 41 percent, but we do not know how to satisfy growing demand, which carries the political and economic risk. Worse, as the Commission points out, the mechanisms to ensure solidarity between EU Member States in the case of energy crises do not exist. Based on the above considerations, the Commission identified in its message, the three major challenges that will wait for the European Union in the coming years. These are: climate change, increasing dependence of the EU on imports  with higher energy prices and the interdependence of the EU countries in terms of energy[2].

The Commission drew attention to the already adopted (on October 19, 2006) Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, which included the goal of reducing primary energy consumption by 20 percent by year 2020. This would mean savings of 100 billion euros per year and reduction of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere by 780 million tons annually. Reduction of energy consumption would be performed mainly by tightening standards for the production of energy-efficient electrical equipment, increasing the popularity of public transport and taking several decisions to promote energy savings.

The Commission proposed a binding target to set the level of renewable energy in overall energy consumption balance (energy mix) in the European Union at 20 percent by 2020.

At the March EU summit the leaders of 27 Member States have adopted a majority proposals from the Commission. It was agreed that by 2020 the EU will reduce carbon dioxide reduction by 20 percent. comparing to 1990, the share of renewable energy in overall energy consumption will increase to 20 percent and the share of biofuels in transport will increase to 10 percent. With provisions for renewable energyi it was compromised, that the objective of achieving its 20 percent share in overall energy consumption will not be identical for all Member States but binding at the level of the entire European Union. When setting individual goals there will be need to take into account the individual situation of the energy potential of individual countries.

Polish policy in the field of RES

The first detailed national legal regulation concerning renewable energy sources (RES) was the Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated February 2, 1999 on the obligation to purchase electricity and heat from unconventional sources and the scope of this obligation (Journal of Laws of 1999, No. 13, item 119). On its basis the distribution companies were obliged to purchase the total production from all renewable sources connected to their networks at the highest price of electricity included in the tariff of the company.

In the next period it was replaced by the Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated December 15, 2000 on the obligation to purchase electricity from unconventional and renewable sources, produced in combination with heat, and heat from unconventional and renewable sources, and the scope of this obligation (Journal of Laws of 2000, No. 122, item 1336). This regulation, in force of resulting since January 1, 2003 amendment to the Article 9a of the ”Energy Law” Act has been, with effect from July 1, 2003, replaced with the Regulation of the Minister of Economy, Labour and Social Policy dated May 30, 2003 on detailed scope of obligation to purchase electricity and heat from renewable energy sources and electricity produced in combination with heat (Journal of Laws of 2003, No. 104, item 971). According its regulations the obligation of purchasing renewable energy was imposed on all companies engaged in electricity trading and obliged them to ensure the volume of electricity sales on the appropriate share of renewable energy. In 2001 this share was 2,4 %, in 2002 – 2,5 %, in 2003 – 2,65 %, and ultimately it had rise to 7,5 % in 2010. The implementation of these provisions was to develop RES by creating administrative demand for this energy, which in turn would stimulate new investment in renewable energy sources.

When Poland became a member state of the European Union, there appeared a need for full compliance to national regulations on renewable energy sources to EU rules, in particular to the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC. On April 2, 2004 there was passed an amendment to two acts – ”Energy Law” and ”Environmental Protection Law” – which led to significant changes, beneficial for the subsector of renewable sources of electric energy. The most important change was to allow the sale of property rights to the certificates of origin, which are the documents approving a prodyuction of certain amount of electricity from a renewable source, regardless of the sale of electricity. Then the Law of March 4, 2005, amending two acts – ”Energy Law” and ”Environmental Protection Law” – imposed on energy companies, selling electricity to end users, to obtain and present to the redemption the certificates of origin or to pay the so-called substitute fee (implementing regulation: Regulation of the Minister of Economy dated December 19, 2005 on the detailed scope of duties to obtain and present to the redemption the certificates of origin, the substitute fee and purchase of electricity and heat produced from renewable energy sources, replaced by a new regulation in August 2008). Adoption of amendments to the ”Energy Law” Act coincided with the enactment of the Energy Policy until 2025 (adopted by the Council of Ministers on January 4, 2005). This document provided for monitoring and improving the adopted mechanisms to support the development of RES, in order to increase the marketability of the national energy and initiate changes in line with global tendencies.[3] As a result of the introduction of the new system, the development of RES in Poland significantly accelerated.

Next major program document for the development of RES in Poland was a ”Polish Energy Policy until 2030”.

According to this document, the development of renewable energy is essential to achieve the fundamental objectives of energy policy. Increasing the use of these sources entails a greater degree of independence from imported energy supplies. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources can increase the degree of diversification of supply sources and to create conditions for the development of distributed energy based on locally available resources. The sustainable use of various types of energy from renewable sources will be supported. In terms of biomass in particular, preference will be the most energy-efficient solutions, including using various techniques of gasification and conversion to liquid fuels, especially second generation biofuels.

Extremely important is the use of biogas from landfills, wastewater treatment and other waste. Ultimately, the use of biomass for distributed generation is assumed. In terms of wind energy, it is expected to develop it both on land and at sea. Also significant will be the increase of the use of water power, both small and large scale installations, that do not significantly affect the environment. Increasing the use of geothermal energy is scheduled by using heat pumps and direct use of geothermal waters. To a much greater degree than previously it is assumed the use of solar energy through solars and innovative photovoltaic technology.

The main objectives of energy policy in this area include:

  • Increase the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption, at least to the level of 15 % in 2020 and a further increase this rate in subsequent years to achieve in 2020 10 % market share of biofuels in transport fuels, and increasing the use of second generation biofuels,
  • Protection of forests against over-exploiting to produce biomass and sustainable use of agricultural areas for the purposes of RES, including biofuels, so that does not lead to competition between renewable energy and agriculture and to preserve biodiversity,
  • Use for the production of electric energy the existing dumping-up constructions owned by the Treasury.
    • Increasing the degree of diversification of supply sources and creation of optimal conditions for the development of distributed energy based on locally available resources[4]

[1] Green Paper: European Strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy,

[2] Green Paper on European Energy Policy – A Report, Anna Konarzewska, National Security I/2006

[3] National Action Plan for RES, the Ministry of Economy

[4] Polish Energy Policy until 2030

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