Recently the Polish energy market has been undergoing highly dynamic changes. It all began with quickly growing energy prices and several changes to legal regulations, including also the “electricity law”, which all have their reflection on market behaviour. Not to forget EU standards that pertain to renewable energy. The present situation signifies that energy prices would continue to grow, among others in connection with dependence on the so-called “black energy” and carbon supplies. Analysts anticipate that wholesale prices in 2020 would grow by at least 40%! The more Poland deviates from other EU countries with respect to the energy policy, the more costly will this dependence turn out to be. Yet this does not have to happen if we keep up with the EU and become oriented at “green energy”.
“Green energy” – development of photovoltaics in Poland
The European photovoltaic market is doing quite well and is currently experiencing a real boom, which may be proven by the dynamic growth of the installed capacity in photovoltaic sources over the past year. Progress in Poland is quite impressive, and in the past few years it has distinguished itself as compared to the remaining EU Member States. In 2018 Poland occupied a high 9th position as regards the increase of installed capacity in photovoltaic sources, and it may not be ruled out that already 2019 we may achieve even the fourth position from among all EU countries! This could have been facilitated by numerous legal changes that have been recently introduced, which definitely contribute to the availability of photovoltaic solutions and the growing interest in those installations in Poland.
A key change is that in line with the amendment of the Act on Renewable Energy Sources of 19 July 2019, the maximum capacity for a photovoltaic microinstallation was increased from 40 to 50 kW. Those types of microinstallations require no building permit, and what is more, it is also possible to expand an already existing installation to 50 kW, with no additional formalities required, which makes the process much easier. Changes also apply to the capacity of small installations, which is currently contained within the range from over 50 kW to below 500 kW. At present this type of installation does not require obtaining a concession for electricity generation. Photovoltaics is becoming more investment-friendly, because its cost and mounting technology is much more affordable than it was before. Given the decrease in wholesale FV panel prices in China (decrease of ca. 20%) and the abolition of customs charge for import, a clear reduction is observable of the price of photovoltaic panels in the entire EU. What is more, as the number of installation companies keeps growing, the installation offer is becoming more advantageous, better adapted to the recipient and better affordable than before.
Business customers, most frequently SMEs under the C tariff connected to the low voltage grid, have to pay the highest rate for electric power (including network services). Given the present developments, the regulatory situation and the available possibilities, including all types of co-financing for projects in renewable energy sources, the best solution to suit your type of business should be sought. Thanks to co-financing from EU means available to entrepreneurs, leasing and credits dedicated to the sector of RES installations, or financial solutions offered by energy-selling enterprises, photovoltaic microinstallations are going to bring their owners bigger and more measurable advantages. Photovoltaic installations may be used for own needs and may also serve as a basis for activity consisting in the generation of electric power. In this first case companies may become prosumers.
A business prosumer is a type of enterprise that has its own RES installation (such as photovoltaic installation on the mall roof) that uses the major part of generated energy for its own needs, and the generated surplus power is sold to the contractual seller at prices that arise from the present energy market. Until not long ago only legal persons could be prosumers, but the above mentioned amendment of the act on RES has extended this right also onto business entities.
At present the biggest Polish energy producers have started to make considerable investments in “green energy” and increasingly often base their business activity also on the generation of energy from renewable sources. Drafts of the Energy Policy of Poland until 2040 and the National Plan for Energy and Climate up to 2030 foresee continuous development of photovoltaic installations. According to the draft the Energy Policy of Poland it is estimated that in 2040 there will be a total capacity of over 20.2GW from photovoltaic installations, which comes up to 25% of the entire installed power!
In response to intensifying environmental problems and health-related problems, the European Union has taken up a fight against CO2 emission, and its policy is clearly oriented at reducing carbon dioxide emission, of which the biggest emitters are producers of coal-based electric power (30% of CO2 released to the atmosphere). Counteracting smog is one of key priorities of the European Union in the financial perspective of the period 2021-27.
Photovoltaics – how to do it?
As we are already aware that powering of a building with solar energy is an affordable and reasonable solution that allows investing in the future, not only as regards our business activity, but also investing in the future of our planet, then what should a commercial building owner do to adopt this solution in his own facility?
First of all the best solution should be selected in consultation with an advisor specialised in photovoltaic panels, as regards the size of the PV system, type of panels and assembly structures. The procedure of connecting a microinstallation is not as complicated as it may seem. Currently each entity that generates its own electricity from photovoltaic panels (and other renewable energy sources) has the right to connect its installation to the power grid and gain the ensuing benefits.
In the assembly process of a photovoltaic installation its proper execution should be assured, in line with relevant technical and legal requirements, as well as a guarantee of the operational safety of the system and the wiring in the building. It is important that the installing entity has appropriate licences for installation of renewable energy sources. This may be easily verified, as generally such an entity/person has a certificate or other document qualifying to execute installations and operate equipment and the grid. In practice well installed panels operate faultlessly, and their lifetime is at least 20 years. What is more, correctly installed panels are characterised by considerable resistance to adverse weather conditions.
Changes have also been made to regulations of the act the Building Code. Beforehand fire protection regulations would only regulate issues concerning disconnection of powering (in the event of a fire hazard) obtained directly from the power grid, and presently there is also a requirement that photovoltaic installations also have to be connected to the power disconnection system. In such a way in the event of a fire the installations pose no danger to the firefighters.
Most likely our readers wonder where they could possibly locate such an installation? Maybe you think that you have no appropriate or sufficient place to be able to invest in this solution. Nothing could be more misleading! Currently photovoltaic installations may be mounted on diverse types of surfaces, which basically range from flat roofs of buildings, parking lot roofing, and naturally elevations and windows. It is vital for the place to have sufficient insolation, attention should be drawn to the inclination angle of the panels, direction of panel situation in relation to the sun or possible shading by adjacent buildings and other installations. It is generally known that panels generate the biggest amounts of energy in spring and summer months: in winter the output of the system tends to fall, yet this does not mean that the installation is not working. Productivity of the installation is considered in an annual scale.
Green energy – advantage for your business activity
Investing in photovoltaic panels entails numerous advantages for a business prosumer, and one of them are figures. For the time being the price for a 50kW photovoltaic installation is ca. PLN 180 000.00. Taking into account the current energy prices, the period of return on investment is ca. 8-13 years (with concurrent significant savings). Assuming that energy prices would continue growing and that the technology of photovoltaic installations would keep evolving, this period may be considerably shortened.
It should be borne in mind that green energy not only involves the financial aspect and the ensuing advantages. Thanks to the usage of renewable energy sources in our facility we may enhance the standard of our property. This is reflected on the occupants, and is also of importance in the event of planned sale of the building and negotiation with the new owner. Building owners who went for this solution are considered socially responsible companies. The business social responsibility is a model concept based on cares for social interest and environment protection, which allows the classification to the Respect Index, i.e. index of socially responsible companies. Recently there are more and more investments on the market of commercial properties of the kind, such as for example the two-level facility close to Paris belonging to the SEGRO group, which is used by IKEA and LEROY-MERLIN and is fully powered by “green energy”. This facility has been granted the BREEAM certificate, with the assessment “Excellent”, and already now sets out European trends in the usage of renewable energy sources.
The author of the text is Justyna Kwiatkowska, Sales Support Specialist at Plus Energia.