Poland’s largest utility PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA is planning to build up to 600 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity by the end of 2024, transforming the site of its 4.93-GW Bełchatów lignite-fired power plant in central Poland, it said April 14.
PGE is also planning an additional 100 MW of onshore wind capacity at Bełchatów within five to seven years, Marcin Karlikowski, head of PGE’s renewable energy subsidiary, said.
“According to the preliminary assumptions, PV installations of up to 600 MW will be built on several plots with a total area of over 500 hectares. We are also planning investments in onshore wind in this location. We estimate potential capacity of approximately 100 MW,” Karlikowski said in a statement. PGE already operates the 30-MW Kamieńsk Wind Farm at Bełchatów.
Karlikowski said construction of wind capacity would depend on the government relaxing the so-called 10-H regulation that prohibits the building of turbines within 1.5 kilometers of residential and protected areas. Poland’s development ministry is working on a legal amendment to reduce the minimum distance requirement to 500 meters.
“The planned PV and wind projects are our contribution to the transformation of Bełchatów, which will change from a region traditionally associated with mining and conventional generation to a low- and zero-emission direction,” Karlikowski said.
The Bełchatów coal plant is the EU’s biggest CO2 emitter. The current lignite feedstock for the plant is due to be exhausted in the second half of the 2030s. PGE plans to flood the vast opencast mines following closure of the plant.