Poland’s government is trying to pass a law that would crush the country’s wind-power industry

Wind turbine welders, Gdansk.
Wind turbine welders, Gdansk.
Image: Reuters/Kacper Pempel
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Poland’s right-wing government wants to pass a law that would greatly hamper the country’s wind-energy industry, just as it starts to accelerate.

The law, which is in draft stage, is designed to make wind-power legislation more “citizen-friendly,” according to the majority Law and Justice Party, as quoted by the Financial Times (paywall). The law would stop turbines being built within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of other buildings or forests—accounting for most of the country. It also calls for big hikes in taxes and inspections that could shut down installations for large parts of the year.

It has caused dismay among those who have been building and investing in wind power.

“The draft law proposed is deeply troubling,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association in March. “It will tie new projects up in red tape and make life hard for existing wind turbines that do not meet the legal demands.”

Poland is still a small player when it comes to wind power in Europe, but it has been expanding rapidly of late. Last year, it was the biggest installer of wind capacity after Germany.

Poland is also a leading manufacturer of foundations for offshore turbines, even though it doesn’t yet have an offshore industry of its own.

One source of tension between those who want to build more turbines and those who don’t is the effect that the installations have on the landscape, which is more often cited as a problem by those on the conservative end of the political spectrum. Another is competition with legacy sources of energy. Poland is one of most coal-dependent countries in the world, and some vested interests want it to keep that sooty crown, no matter how badly the carbon-intensive industry is faring.