Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "We want to make progress towards green energy for the sake of our environment but also for European economic growth. The Polish support scheme will increase the share of green energy in Poland's energy mix and help the country's energy transition. It will also preserve the global competitiveness of companies that are heavily energy dependent."
The scheme, with a total budget of PLN 40 billion (around €9.4 billion), will grant State support to producers of electricity from renewable sources. Beneficiaries will be selected by means of competitive auctions. The first two rounds took place in December 2016 and June 2017 and additional auctions will be organised until 30 June 2021. Under the scheme:
- Small installations with a capacity of up to 500kW can benefit from a feed-in tariff.
- Installations with a capacity of more than 500kW will receive a premium on top of the market price of electricity, so that they have to respond to market signals. Beneficiaries will only receive the premium if, in the coming years, the market price of electricity is below the bidding price submitted in the auction. This premium is meant to help these facilities to compensate for costs that cannot be recovered from selling electricity in the market, and so obtain a reasonable return on investment.
The Commission assessed the scheme under EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy. These require competitive auctions for renewables support to ensure that the use of public funds is limited and there is no overcompensation. The Commission found that the Polish scheme will encourage the development of different renewable technologies, in line with the requirements of the Guidelines, and will help Poland achieve its 2020 environmental and climate change objectives. The measure will boost the share of renewable electricity produced in Poland, while any distortion of competition caused by the State support is minimised.
This renewable support scheme is financed by a surcharge levied on electricity consumers. Poland has also notified to the Commission plans to lower the financial burden on undertakings in certain energy-intensive sectors, which will benefit from a reduced surcharge. The Commission has found that these reductions are in line with the Guidelines, which allow Member States to provide reductions to undertakings in certain sectors that are particularly energy-intensive and exposed to international competition, in order to ensure their global competitiveness.
The scheme is accompanied by an evaluation plan to assess its impact. The results of this evaluation will be submitted to the Commission by December 2020.
The Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy(see full text here), allow Member States to support the production of electricity from renewable energy sources (including from renewable waste) and high efficiency combined heat and power plants, subject to certain conditions. These rules are aimed at meeting the EU's ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market.
The Renewable Energy Directive established targets for all Member States' shares of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption by 2020. For Poland, that target is 15% by 2020.
More information on today's decision will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website under the case number SA.43697. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal.