Guidelines of the URE President on doubts about public and commercial grid connection of RES installations

4 April 2024 | Knowledge, News

The European Union has adopted a binding target of climate neutrality by 2050 and intends to achieve this by, among other things, increasing the share of renewable energy sources (RES) in the energy mix. The share of RES in the EU’s gross final energy consumption should, by 2030, be at least 42.5% (compared to 23% today), with a target of up to 45%.[1]

The EU requires Member States to speed up and simplify procedures for RES projects, including connection procedures. In addition, by 21 February 2026, Member States must designate accelerated RES development areas, with the administrative procedure generally limited to 12 months.

Climate and energy targets in the face of rising connection refusals

In Poland, where renewable energy currently accounts for ca. 18% of energy consumption,[2] the main obstacle to the development of RES investment is the increasing number of connection refusals. According to information published by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office (URE), more than 7,000 negative decisions were issued in 2022 alone, an increase of ca. 88% compared to the previous year.[3]

Furthermore, an audit conducted by the Supreme Audit Office (NIK) between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2022[4] revealed irregularities in the connection of RES installations. Among other things, it was found that electricity system operators (ESOs) did not take into account connection refusals in planned investments, which was considered an unsound practice. In addition, the NIK report found that the reasons given by the URE President for refusals were not sufficiently detailed and did not allow an assessment of whether a given decision was actually justified. This means that the standardisation of ESO practice is necessary for the further development of renewable energy, as the scale of challenges in this area is enormous.

Conditions for investors to conclude a connection agreement

Pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Energy Law,[5] an electricity transmission system operator (ETSO) or an electricity distribution system operator (EDSO) is obliged to conclude a grid connection agreement, ensuring the equal treatment of all applicants. When the technical and economic conditions for grid connection and energy supply are met, priority should be given to RES installations.

In response to numerous enquiries regarding public-private and commercial connections, the URE President has published information[6] to clarify doubts and to speed up the RES connection procedure.

Non-compliance with technical, economic and technical-economic conditions

According to the information of the URE President, non-compliance with technical conditions will occur only when the technical obstacle is permanent (i.e. cannot be removed by any measures) and objective (results from an irremovable obstacle),[7] i.e. “connection to the grid is impossible in the current and future state of the grid, regardless of expenditure”.

According to the URE President, such situations are “extremely exceptional” and should be described very precisely when the issuing of connection conditions is refused.

Failure to comply with economic conditions, on the other hand, will only occur if the ETSO or EDSO, as the case may be, considers that connection is not possible based on the criterion chosen, including:

  • Connection may result in costs being passed on to consumers.
  • The necessary grid facilities are not included in the network development plan.
  • External financing is not available.

According to the URE President, non-compliance with technical-economic conditions will occur when connection is technically feasible, but the ETSO or EDSO development plan does not provide for the necessary network development and connection can only take place if the applicant co-finances it.

Guidelines of the URE President for commercial connection of RES installations

Applicants whose installation does not meet the economic conditions may apply for a so-called commercial connection referred to in Article 7(9) of the Energy Law. The relevant operator is then obliged to indicate the connection fee, the amount of which should be agreed with the applicant. At the applicant’s request, the ESO should also indicate how this amount is calculated, specifying the main components of investment expenditure.

According to the information of the URE President, a possible dispute between the applicant and the operator does not constitute an obstacle to commercial connection.

Applicants may resubmit their applications, for example by indicating a more favourable connection location. Furthermore, when analysing applications for the issuance of connection conditions, operators are not entitled to assess the correctness or feasibility of the decision on development conditions or to question the possibility of locating a RES installation in the area specified in that decision.

RES: Conclusions and recommendations

  • Accelerated RES development areas will be designated by 21 February 2026. Investors should therefore actively participate in the designation process to have the opportunity to implement RES projects more quickly
  • Connections should only be refused in exceptional circumstances, i.e. if:
    • None of the current or planned measures enable connection [technical criterion], or
    • The operator cannot finance the connection and the necessary grid facilities are not included in the network development plan [economic criterion], or
    • Connection is technically feasible, but the necessary grid expansion is not included in the development plan [technical-economic criterion]
  • In parallel with the pending procedure and in case of a connection refusal, investors may apply for a so-called commercial connection
  • Investors may apply for connection several times, including by indicating a different location, and the ESO should not make the issuing of connection conditions dependent on an assessment of the correctness of the location decision (development conditions)
  • At the investor’s request, the ESO should allow commercial connection, specifying the amount and method of calculation of the connection fee
  • The ESO should increase investment expenditure to improve grid capacity and cooperate with investors applying for commercial connection
  • The URE President should give detailed reasons for refusing to issue connection conditions

Any questions? Contact

Milena Kazanowska-Kędzierska

Aleksandra Pinkas

 

[1] Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (OJ L 2018 No. 328 as amended).

[2] Overall share of energy from renewable sources in 2022 [Eurostat data as at December 2023].

[3] URE Bulletin 01/2023, pp. 72-73

[4] NIK, Information on audit results. Development of the electricity distribution grid, 2024.

[5] Act of 10 April 1997 – Energy Law (Journal of Laws 2024, item 266), “EL”.

[6] Information No. 15/2024 of the URE President of 22 March 2024 on the issues causing the most common doubts about grid connection.

[7] Confirmed in the plan for meeting current and future energy demand, drawn up by the ETSO or EDSO, as appropriate, pursuant to Article 16 of the EL.

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