Poland sets sights on multi-gigawatt growth as industry weathers COVID storm

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Poland’s solar industry appears to have weathered the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and be on course for substantial growth, according to two reports, one of which of forecasts almost 8GW of installed capacity by 2025.

The European country has been slow to follow the example of many of its continental neighbours and embrace solar energy, but 2019 saw a significant uptick in its PV installations, a trend that appears to have been undented so far this year by the global coronavirus crisis.

According to a report published earlier this month by Poland’s Institute of Renewable Energy (IEO) the country’s total installations at the end of 2019 stood at 1,500MW, an increase of around 900MW on the previous year’s total. By May 2020 that figure had risen by a further 450MW and, according to IEO, by the end of this year could reach 2.5GW.

The main driver of Polish solar’s recent successes is the small-scale self-consumption or ‘prosumer’ segment, which accounted for 70% of all capacity installed by the end of 2019 and will continue to be an important part of the market for the rest of 2020.

But from next year, the IEO report said large-scale solar farm projects awarded contracts in auctions held in 2018-19 will start to come on stream, helping propel the market to an estimated 7.8GW by 2025. That would take it beyond the total capacity assumed in Poland’s 2030 National Plan for Energy and Climate, according to the IEO.

Meanwhile, a survey published last week by the national trade body Poland PV suggests the coronavirus pandemic was not enough to dampen activity in the solar sector, with 312MW of capacity across 43,000 separate micro-installations achieving grid connection in the first quarter of 2020, just as the disease began its spread.

Based on a survey of members, PV Poland said companies had on average recorded a 400% increase in sales in March 2020 compared to March the previous year, while the 200% in employment observed in January 2020 compared to same month in 2019 had not apparently been impacted by the coronavirus, rising a further 3% by April 2020.

Both reports are testament to a growing feeling within European feeling that Poland is set for prolific development activity, kickstarted by a multi-gigawatt tender towards the end of last year. A number of developers set up shop in the eastern European nation as a result, with build-out now starting in earnest.

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