For nearly six years, there has been a debate in Poland between the wind industry, politicians, energy-intensive industry, local communities, electricity consumers and economists about the nature of wind energy, its potential and necessary regulatory changes. Today, in the era of inflation, dependence on fossil fuel imports, and in the face of a crisis, the question about onshore wind energy is not “if” but “how”. And this question, as a result of an unexpected amendment challenging the consensus developed in the ongoing legislative process, has led us to comparison of 500m with 700m – as the required minimum distance of wind turbines from residential buildings.

Both values are significantly smaller than the current minimum distance equivalent to ten times the height of a wind turbine. In contrast, it turns out that the difference between 500m and 700m is not just 200m, it is a dramatic change in the available area nationally.

The GIS analysis carried out at Ambiens gives a concrete answer. Considering all assumptions of the Wind Power Investment Act, known as the “Distance Act”, and the variant distances from the nearest buildings, we are talking about a theoretical potential of 32,500km2 (500m) or 18,000km2 (700m) on a national scale. A 200m increase in the required distance results in a 44% reduction in the permitted area across Poland,” concludes the author, Monika Gąsior, Ambiens Analyst.

At the same time, it is worth noting that both calculations present a theoretical area, which is expected to require, at a later stage, the adoption of local development plans involving the local administration and the nearest neighbours and the carrying out of an environmental impact assessment, each time agreed with the relevant authorities at regional level.  

In addition, sites dedicated to wind energy must be characterised by good wind conditions, accessibility for large-scale components and technical connection conditions. In practice, this means that an area that does not statutorily exclude wind energy during project development is severely restricted. This is an important perspective in the debate about the potential of onshore wind energy and the necessary changes.

In a recent post on his Linkedin profile, Michal Kaczerowski, Ambiens CEO, pointed out the key comments regarding the announced 700m. The unprecedented popularity of the publication, shares and comments indicate the importance of the issue.

What do I think about the 700m distance for wind turbines? Generally, the same as about 10H. 

  1. Restriction of the wind industry, a blow to the energy industry and a loss for the economy.
  2. Restriction of local government autonomy.
  3. Lack of substantive justification and legal basis. 
  4. Lack of proper correlation with the Planning and Spatial Development Act.  
  5. Questioning of environmental law and environmental impact assessments. Complicating permitting. 
  6. Taking one technology outside the bracket of all other legal frameworks for investment projects in general. 
  7. Wasting the potential and readiness of projects frozen 10H but compliant with legitimate MSPs. A blow to the entire supply chain for years to come. 
  8. Negative impact on the possible dynamics of national emissions reductions. 
  9. Adverse impact on risks, valuations and attractiveness of projects. 
  10. Consequences for strategic decisions of energy companies (national and global). 
  11. No legitimate benefits for local communities, immediate neighbours.
  12. Limitation of optimal use of power density (MW/km2) within the range of connection conditions.  
  13. No measurable benefits from an ESG or ‘compliance’ perspective of leading FI’s.

Michał Kaczerowski, Ambiens CEO