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.
But it is not only a lack of new tariffs which has held up the RES draft. The government announced in June that it would wait with the RES law until the existing Energy Law was amended. "This could happen not earlier than mid-August, so the RES law could be sent to the parliament in September - if at all," Wiśniewski explains.
Some market experts, however, have told solarthermalworld.org that the government had already given up on the RES law and was just waiting for the approval of the European Commission (EC) to abandon it. The EC has to agree to the move, because the RES law was to implement the EU Directive. But the government wants to convince Brussels that an amendment of the existing energy law will do. Before receiving an official confirmation from Brussels, the government will not officially announce where it stands on the issue, as Poland´s administration would have to pay EUR 4 million per months of penalties for not implementing the Renewable Energy Directive. If, however, the RES Law is sent to the parliament, its members will have only four months to approve the law in order to meet the 1 January 2014 deadline.
Abandoning the RES law will have a negative impact on the solar thermal market in Poland. The draft was to provide the industry with long-term financing from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (Polish initialism: NFOŚiGW). Currently, NFOŚiGW is running a PLN 450 million solar thermal grant programme, with the budget expected to dry up in early 2014. There is a new programme being devised at NFOŚiGW, which is called Prosument and would provide grants between 2014 and 2016, but that will still leave the solar thermal industry without the long-term financial perspective that the RES Law could provide. The draft's provisions allocate a large proportion of NFOŚiGW revenues from environmental penalties to small renewable energy sources including long-lasting support for solar thermal.
The law also provides special support mechanisms for small-scale renewable heat applications - among others, for solar thermal collectors. The owners of appliances of up to 70 kW of solar thermal capacity (100 m2 of collector area) would enjoy special privileges: tax deductions and grants under the condition that the systems are mounted by certified plumbers.
Moreover, according to the draft, the individual or company purchasing the solar thermal system will be able to deduct the maximum of 25 % of the total investment cost from taxable income, but no more than PLN 10,000 (EUR 2,500). Most of Poland’s population pays a tax of 19 %, while the owner of a solar thermal system would receive a maximum benefit of 19 % of PLN 2,500, which would result in a gain of PLN 475.
This news was written by Marcin Czekanski, a Polish journalist specialised in renewable energies and based in Szczecin, Poland, (firstname.lastname@example.org).