A record year for renewable energy

A record year for renewable energy

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According to the International Energy Agency IEA, last year was an absolute record year for renewable energy, despite the ongoing pandemic and rising raw materials costs. Around 290 GW of wind turbines and solar panels were installed worldwide this year. This is a new record, 10 GW higher than the previous record year of 2020.

The rate of growth in renewable capacity is expected to continue to increase, and on current trends, the total generation capacity of clean electricity sources will exceed the combined capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear power as early as 2026.  The development of new, more ambitious climate policies in several countries has contributed to this growth. At the COP26 session in Glasgow in November, governments unveiled their new emissions reduction targets.
But the IEA warns that even at this rate of development, renewable energy capacity will fall short. To achieve net zero emissions by mid-century, renewables must grow twice as fast as fossil fuels. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy will account for about 95% of global capacity growth by the end of 2026, half of which will come from photovoltaics.
On the other hand, the current raw materials crisis is creating difficulties as rising prices have partially offset recent reductions in renewable energy costs. Wind power costs will return to 2015 levels next year if material prices continue to rise, while solar PV costs will be comparable to those in 2018-2019.
High pandemic prices for construction materials and raw materials are impacting the financial health of wind and solar PV construction companies.  From early 2020 to mid-2021, copper prices have risen by half and steel rebar prices have doubled. Prices of fuel, cement, and salaries for professionals have also risen. The rise in prices seen across the construction sector is also evident in the wind farm sector, according to Bartosz Sobolewski, CJR Renewables’ head of Central and Eastern Europe. He adds that there is little chance for prices to fall in the coming quarters. Nevertheless, investors are still willing to continue and start projects.

Wind is the largest source of electricity from RES in Poland

According to statistics from the Polish Power Grid PSE, the installed capacity of wind farms as of November 1, 2021 was 7185 MW, an increase of 75 MW month-on-month. Renewable energy sources currently have an installed capacity of over 15.3 GW. More than 6 GW is accounted for by solar PV and 45% by wind farms.  In September, the total installed capacity in the national electricity system (conventional and renewable) was 53.3 GW.
Wind farms operated at a maximum capacity of 6399.6 MW at 1 a.m. on November 20, 2021, accounting for 34% of total NPS generation. On the other hand, on November 19 between 11 p.m. and midnight, WF generation was 6372 MWh, or 32% of NPS capacity.
It is worth noting, however, that wind power is variable in nature and scenarios where it operates at a level of only a few hundred MW with a capacity of over 7000 MW are no exception.

Wind energy – forecasts

Offshore wind energy will be implemented from 2025, according to the draft Polish Energy Policy until 2040, and the installed capacity will reach:
  • In 2030, about 5.9 GW will be installed;
  • In 2040, about 8-11 GW.
In 2030, onshore wind power capacity is expected to reach 8-10 GW.

What hampers wind energy development in Poland?

The so-called “distance law” in Poland hampers wind energy development. It established the “10H rule”, according to which wind turbines must be built at a distance of 10 times their height – in practice about 1.5 km. In reality, there are not many such sites in Poland that meet all the requirements.
It is not only the rising cost of raw materials that is a problem for the sector. Through increased global demand, transport prices, especially by sea, are also rising. Because of the pandemic, the supply chain, especially with modules from Asia, has been disrupted, so that some of them had to be shifted from sea to rail.
Increased demand is also a problem in Poland – thanks to the rapid acceleration of the energy transition, the demand for design services, construction work, and deliveries is increasing, which brings further difficulties.

Largest wind farms in Poland

  • Potegowo – 219 MW. Completed in December 2020;
  • Margonin – 120 MW. Completed in 2009;
  • Banie – 106 MW. Commissioned in 2016;
  • Marszewo – 100 MW. Commissioned in 2013;
  • Lotnisko – 94.50 MW. Commissioned in 2015;
  • Karscino – 90 MW. Commissioned in 2009.

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