Microinstallations on a turning point | How to secure the future of distributed energy in Poland?


In recent years, over 600,000 households and businesses have invested in their own solar installations, and approximately 35,000 jobs have been created in companies offering services in this segment. This is the biggest, albeit unplanned, success of the Law and Justice government in the energy sector. However, further expansion of micro-installations in Poland is questionable - the government is planning changes in the rules governing this dynamically developing energy sector. This is an operation on a living organism, therefore surgical precision is needed in introducing changes - a transparent process, clear intentions and time that will allow the newly established sector and energy companies to prepare for the transition.

The motivation for planning sudden changes in the rules for civic energy is likely motivated by its rapid growth, for which the distribution system operators have not prepared. The Ministry of Climate and Environment has proposed a new system of accounting energy fed into the grid by prosumers. Concern among market participants has reached its zenith - technical and regulatory problems and lack of clear declarations as to how distributed energy resources should develop further raise justified concerns about the future of the industry.

In its latest report, Forum Energii explains the role distributed generation plays in the energy system, formulates recommendations concerning a new support system and actions necessary for the distribution grids to play a supporting rather than an inhibiting role in the development of civic energy.

- There are great benefits stemming from the dynamic growth of renewable micro-installations: distributed energy supports the transformation of the Polish power sector towards climate neutrality, strengthens the security of energy supply in summer and helps to fight smog when electrification of heating takes place. It involves society in the energy transformation while effectively helping to avoid sudden increases in electricity and heating prices, especially when a household uses a heat pump - points out Tobiasz Adamczewski, Head of RES at Forum Energii.

Further development of distributed energy will require regulatory changes in several areas simultaneously. First of all, we need a clear declaration concerning the development of photovoltaic energy, including prosumer energy, e.g. at the level of 2 GW per year. Distribution grid operators must prepare for further growth of micro-installations and prosumers should participate in grid development costs - which is not the case at the moment. DSOs need to prepare investment plans with a view to developing not only PV, but also, for example, electric vehicles.

In the analysis, we also point to solutions that would help grids manage more energy from distributed sources: these include investments in local energy storage, cables with larger cross-sections, automation of transformer stations and implementation of smart solutions.

In addition to investment efforts on the DSO side, further integration of civic energy into the grid should be supported by changing the prosumer support scheme. The reform must take place by 2024 in order to implement the EU rules on accounting for energy from micro-installations. The new support system should encourage higher energy consumption during energy production and enable separate accounting for energy fed into and consumed from the grid. It is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when changing the support system and lead to uncontrolled bankruptcy of many thousands of companies. Therefore, Forum Energii suggests that the new support system should be simple, predictable and cost-effective for future prosumers.

- The recommended solution in the report is net-billing with a fixed rate that the investor receives for the energy fed into the grid for e.g. 15 years. The prosumer would be certain of the investment payback period, which encourages spending money from the household budget. A fixed price means less risk on the part of the investor and a guarantee for the regulator that there will be no over-support. At the same time, it encourages greater self-consumption, which is desirable from the grid management point of view - says Tobiasz Adamczewski.

Distributed energy is one of the pillars of the energy transition in Poland and in a short time it has become an important branch of the economy. It will, of course, not replace large-scale investments in power generation, but it is an important element increasing energy security at the local level.  Its development follows the spirit of the times: development of renewable technologies and decentralization of energy production, energy storage, digitalization and climate and air protection. In the Forum Energii report "Microinstallations at a turning point. How to secure the future of distributed energy in Poland?", which was prepared in cooperation with the Regulatory Assistance Project, we look at real problems emerging from the development of distributed energy, and we propose solutions that will allow its further integration in a modern power grid.

The report is currently available only in Polish.

Tobiasz Adamczewski, Michał Jędra - Forum Energii

Substantive cooperation:
Dr. Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera - Forum Energii
Dr. Zsuzsanna Pató - Regulatory Assistance Project
Andreas Jahn - Regulatory Assistance Project
Dr. Eng. Marek Wancerz - Lublin University of Technology

Publication date of the report:
21 October 2021

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