Poland’s Mazovia Region is one of nine regional actors which have worked together with the Institute for Renewable Energy (IEO, formerly EC BREC), the Polish partner, on the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m: Solar District Heating – From Policy to Market. On 16 March 2017, IEO organised a workshop where 60 stakeholders from the district heating industry and municipal authorities and researchers met to discuss the details of strategies and activities which could support the development of SDH or solar district heating. Solarthermalword.org sat down with IEO’s Aneta Więcka to talk about opportunities, barriers and the current situation of the SDH market in the Mazovia Region and the rest of country.
The annual market statistic of the Polish Institute for Renewable Energy (EC BREC IEO) show a clear downward trend over the last two years, mainly because of changes in the national subsidy scheme of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, NFOŚiGW. The Prosument programme, which was launched in May 2014, stipulated the installation of a micro-renewable electricity installation before an investor was able to apply for a solar water heater. This reduced the attractiveness of solar thermal technology tremendously and became a great market barrier according to the discussion at the 8th Energy Forum held in Warsaw in May 2015. Therefore, it was good news that NFOŚiGW removed the required combination of renewable electricity and renewable heat systems in its publication on 24 June 2015, which has been in effect since 1 August 2015. But in the same decision paper by the Supervisory Board of NFOŚiGW, the programme administrator restricted the subsidy level for solar heat.
The Polish solar thermal industry is going through difficult times right now. At the end of December 2014, the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, NFOŚiGW, approved the last applications for the national residential incentive programme. The follow-up financial mechanism, Prosument, is a lot less attractive and has not really started yet for solar thermal. In contrast to the previous long-term subsidy scheme, which focused on solar heat, Prosument basically subsidises renewable sources of electricity. Solar thermal is only accepted in combination with an electric source, e.g., heat pump + PV or solar thermal collector + PV (for more information about Prosument, please see the database of incentive programmes. The programme was first introduced as a two-year interim programme, but has now been turned into a nine-year scheme running until 2022. Polish Zloty (PLN) 800 million (EZR 187 million) is available in funding, although they will not be allocated to the six eligible technologies.
On 25 May, the new Polish incentive programme Prosument began to accept applications from municipalities. By August 2014, the same will be true for residential homeowners. Prosument offers grants worth 20 % of the investment costs, grants which can be combined with a 1 % interest loan to finance the remaining investment. The latest changes by the programme’s administrator, the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, NFOŚiGW, have been met with strong criticism. Grzegorz Wiśniewski, President of the Institute for Renewable Energy (EC BREC IEO), has said that the current conditions of the programme would lead to a drastic drop in sales.
The Association of Manufacturers and Importers of Heating Appliances (Polish acronym: SPIUG) and the Institute for Renewable Energy (Polish initialism: IEO) have criticised the draft of the new Prosument programme which is planned to replace the current grant scheme during the second half of 2014. Both organisations claim that reducing the grant from 45% to 10% of the investment costs is too strong a measure to further attract interest in renewable heating systems, such as solar thermal technology. The other part of the investment is to be covered by a low-interest loan with 1%.
Business satisfaction in the Polish solar thermal industry is declining: The ISOL Business Index developed by German market research agency solrico achieved high scores above 50 points in 2010 and 2011, but is now down to almost 40 in the latest survey from October 2013. The ISOL Index is a barometer for the development of the solar thermal market on a national, regional and global level. It is a point-based indicator showing the satisfaction of the solar thermal industry players with current and future business opportunities. The cause of this downward trend lies in the uncertainty surrounding the political frame conditions in Poland over the coming years. The companies which took part in the survey assume a rather stagnating market or maybe a slight increase next year - after two years of growth rates between 30 and 60 %.
The debate about the new regulations for the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (Polish initialism: NFOŚiGW) continues: From 1 October 2013 on, the grant cap will refer to a collector’s aperture area and not its gross area. After the Society of Vacuum Collector Importers and Distributors criticised the new guidelines on 30 September, it is now the Association of Manufacturers and Importers of Heating Appliances (Polish acronym: SPIUG) which is voicing scepticism over the new guidelines. Meanwhile, however, NFOŚiGW solar thermal grant programme is said to run out of money next year.
On 2 September, the Polish National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (Polish initialism: NFOŚiGW) announced new requirements for its residential subsidy scheme on its website. From 1 October 2013 on, the grant cap will refer to a collector’s aperture area and not its gross area. "The revision is needed, because new collector models with much bigger gross surface than aperture area have started to appear on the market," NFOŚiGW explained. Funding is capped at 2,250 PLN/m² of collector area (EUR 536), which corresponds to a share of 45 % of the investment costs. From October onwards, the calculation will be based on aperture area, drastically changing the regulations for vacuum tube collector suppliers.
The draft of the RES law, which was published in December 2011, has never reached the Polish parliament. The government has missed all deadlines that it announced for sending the draft to the legislative for almost two years. In April, the Ministry of Economy gave the Institute for Renewable Energy (IEO) the task to recalculate tariffs for renewable electricity included in the RES law. “We will send the results of the calculations back to the ministry around 20 July," Grzegorz Wiśniewski, IEO's President, says.
On 1 March, the Polish National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (NFOŚiGW) announced a new programme called KAWKA to reduce the air pollution in cities. KAWKA, which roughly translates as “Removal of low-efficient energy sources supporting the growth and deployment of decentralised renewable energy sources”, has a budget of Polish Zloty (PLN) 800 million (EUR 200 million) and will support a wide range of technologies, such as solar thermal, heat pumps, biogas and combined heating and power plants, until the end of 2013. Eligible applicants are municipalities of towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants, in which the massive use of fossil fuels - especially coal – for space heating has produced high dust pollution levels.