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Big step for small renewables: Poland to introduce feed-in tariffs for microinstallations

After many months of advocating for public support to small-scale renewables, Polish citizens and environmental movement finally got some long-awaited good news. On 20 February 2015, Polish parliamentarians voted to adopt a provision of the draft renewable energy (RES) law, introducing feed-in tariffs for electricity generated in the smallest RES microinstallations. This date marks an important change in Polish authorities' attitude towards citizen-owned renewables, and a first step towards a more democratic, decentralised energy system in Poland.

The regulation adopted by the Polish Parliament will support the growing movement of prosumers – individual owners of microinstallations who are both producers and consumers of renewable energy. While generating energy primarily for own use, prosumers will now be able to sell the surplus green electricity to the grid for a long-term guaranteed price, which is higher than that on the market. The tariff period will be 15 years and the prices will differ, depending on the RES technology and the installed power, with the smallest solar, wind and hydro installations of up to 3kW receiving the highest level of support.

The introduction of feed-in tariffs is the first step towards making small-scale energy production both universally accessible and profitable. By bringing more investment security to the small renewables market, it will make it easier for Poles to obtain bank loans and cause the prices of installations to go down. With a cap on the maximum amount of installed power, initial estimates say that around 200-300 thousand new microinstallations owned by households, non-profits or small businesses will fall under the feed-in tariff system.

In a country where the energy market is effectively monopolised by big state-owned companies, and which still uses coal to produce more than 85% of its electricity, the Parliament’s decision is being hailed as a victory of the civil society, and a symbolic beginning of a citizen energy revolution in Poland. Citizen energy is not only about profits for individual prosumers – it can also build a foundation for a more just, democratic and sustainable energy system based on community-owned, local renewable sources.

Source: Julia Krzyszkowska, CEE Bankwatch Network

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