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How can the recycling of wind turbine blades support public acceptance for new wind farms projects?

23/11/2020

Whoever professionally deals with RES in Poland knows that investments in this area have often followed a bumpy path. Many times infrastructure projects in this segment of the energy market were ahead of both the then state of eco-awareness of decision-makers, media and local communities. Unfortunately, this led to resistance to the installation of new facilities, such as wind power plants or biogas plants. The lack of f predictability of the regulatory environment for years has added small obstacles for investors. Despite this, the share of RES in Poland’s energy mix at the end of 2019 reached 15.4%, of which 5.9 GW is wind power installed. And although it is forecast that in the coming years it will be 10 GW and investments in onshore wind power plants will amount to 3 to 5.5 billion euros, the social dialogue will remain engaging for companies and will require very reliable communication so far.

Industry experts, including Deloitte, indicate that Poland is currently in the top 4 most active RES markets in Europe, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not limited the interest of infrastructure investors in investing capital in domestic renewable assets. The trend of “returning” to RES at the central level is also very clear. At the end of the year an update of the Polish Energy Policy based on natural gas, atom and RES is to be published. Recently, the largest energy groups (PGE, TAURON, PKN ORLEN) have revised their investment strategies towards energy transformation. For the last 2-3 years, financial investors have also been increasing their activity (banks again support wind projects) and strategic investors (PGE, Polenergia) in the area of RES.

A more favorable climate for investing in RES, especially in wind farms, was also influenced by interest rate cuts (lower costs of investment financing, better levels of return) as well as a decent auction support system. The prices of wind energy offered today – outside the auction system – in direct contracts are lower than wholesale prices. This is a clear illustration of the fact that the Polish wind energy sector has reached the grid parity level (i.e. equalizing its production costs with conventional sources) and at the same time optimizing energy production costs in the most efficient way among RES projects. If we add to this that energy prices in Poland remain some of the highest in Europe, and the operating capacity in the wind is almost 10 times lower than in Germany, we come to a clear conclusion about the high growth potential of the national wind energy.

At the same time, we remain under the restrictions imposed by the Distance Act and the latest statements by government representatives show that it will not be deprived of the widely criticized 10H rule. From the statements of the Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment and the Government Plenipotentiary for RES Ireneusz Zyska, we can clearly see that the burden of gaining stakeholder acceptance for the infrastructure projects underway remains entirely with the investor: „I believe that the so-called 10 H rule should remain as a general rule, and that any deviations should be included with the consent of local communities (…)”.

Therefore, social participation and education in the field of RES projects are not only good practices, but also an element of a business strategy that allows for an undisturbed investment. Many times during meetings with representatives of local governments and residents the question of direct benefits from the presence of the investor arises. GP RENEWABLES GROUP has developed a helpful tool for social dialogue. With the support of partners, the Polish company Anmet and scientists from national technical universities, a portfolio of visually and usably attractive elements of public space development was created. The products come in 90% from the recycling of worn out composite wind turbine blades and, as part of their “second life”, have taken various shapes: benches, tables, loungers, shelters, bridges and others. The furniture is additionally designer and attractive in terms of price, but what is most important – it allows, together with the social or institutional partner, to revitalize a selected public space. And at the same time create here an information and education point about a specific project, or renewable energy in general. Furniture made of blades realize the idea of closed-loop economy, making the cleaner energy coming from the wind cleaner, because we limit the impact of the installation on the environment by useful waste management. And what is most important, this concept undoubtedly supports building a positive image of a socially responsible investor, while at the same time instilling in public space sympathetic objects coming directly and literally… from a wind farm.

You can read more about the architecture made of recycled wind turbine blades and ready solutions here: :

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