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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 2, 2009
Economic Forum in Krynica
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Is Polish Law Ready for the First Maritime Wind Farms?
September 2, 2009   
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Searching for new sources of energy has recently been high on the agenda. One of the most widely discussed solutions relates to investment projects consisting of the construction of wind farms, which almost overnight have become a part of the Polish landscape. There are plenty of reasons for the fast development of wind power plants, among them, a fairly wide interest on the part of investors, the opportunity of obtaining EU funds and also state aid; for example there is an obligation for operators to generate some of their energy from renewables.

However, it turns out that wind farms may become an even better investment-all you have to do is locate them at sea. Experts believe that maritime wind farms provide the best direction for wind power plant development; in particular in the Baltic Sea area, which provides favorable conditions for such investment projects.

Why is it then that the construction of the first maritime wind power plant has yet to be launched? The answer is fairly complex as there is an ongoing dispute concerning both the environmental and visual aspects of such ventures. However, the biggest problem seems to be the lack of adjusted legal regulations. So far, no enforceable spatial development plans have been adopted for the maritime regions. The investors are required to obtain a permit for the erection and use of artificial islands and structures in Polish maritime areas. The permit is issued for the period necessary for the completion of the venture; however it may not exceed five years. The profitability of maritime wind farms is calculated for a period of 25-30 years, and obtaining a permit for five years seems risky at best. Moreover, in a case where the permit involves the acquisition of the exclusive economic zone, a fee is charged equivalent to 1% of the prospective venture. The additional financial charges related to the venture are therefore quite considerable.

Obtaining the permit is just the first step. The next one involves obtaining a construction permit and a number of maritime and legal permits. As a consequence, the whole administrative procedure, let alone the construction work, is time consuming, expensive and complex.

According to prospective investors, the first applications have already been submitted; however it is estimated that it will take at least another 11 years before the first maritime power plants are constructed in Poland.
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