Poland is one of the most promising markets for green energy investments in Europe. One of the main conclusions of the international conference on “Transactions in the renewable energy sector”, held on 3 February, is that in addition to the involvement of investors and the support of financial institutions, a clear and predictable national policy is also necessary. The conference was organized by AEEC (Associated European Energy Consultants) and the law firm WKB Wierciński, Kwieciński, Baehr. Representatives of financial institutions, advisors and investors active in the renewable energy sector participated in the conference, with panels moderated by WKB’s expert lawyers.

Two debates were held – the first (“Financing the renewable energy sector”) was dedicated to the subject of financing the renewable energy sector. Wojciech Hann (President of BOŚ); Artur Tomaszewski (President of the Management Board of DNB); Maryla Posyniak (Head of the Structured Finance Department at BGK); Paweł Lewandowski (EIB, CFA, Project and Structured Finance North, Central and Southeast Europe); Grzegorz Zieliński (EBRD Regional Director) and Kavita Patel (Head of Investment Funds at Sheakespeare Martineau) took part in the discussion. During the debate, the panelists shared their experiences and emphasized that, in order to finance such long-term projects, it is necessary for investors to have legal stability, as well as a national strategy. The panelists noted the most common financial, regulatory and political risks in financing RES investments (including interest rates, technology costs, energy price forecasts and taxes). They also raised the matter of risks related to various legal regimes, foreign exchange, and those involved in ensuing appropriate supply chains. The panelists also emphasized the fact that Poland’s transition from having 70% of its energy generated from coal is a significant challenge. Coal mining is a social factor due to the continuing high levels of employment in this sector and the historical importance of mining as an occupation.

The discussion was moderated by Maciej Szambelańczyk, a partner in WKB’s energy team, and  Marcin Smolarek, a partner in WKB’s banking and finance team.

The participants in the second debate titled “Transactions in the renewable energy sector”, dedicated to the specifics of transactions in the renewable energy sector, were: prof. Christian Held, (partner at the German law firm BBH); Joaquim Barbosa (Country Manager at EDPR); Artur Violante (Country Manager for Poland at Energix); Søren Hornbæk Svendsen (partner at the Danish law firm Horten, Head of the Energy and Infrasture practice) and Jarosław Dybowski (Executive Director for Energy and Heat at PKN Orlen).

All of the panelists emphasized that the regulatory environment has a significant influence on transactions in the renewable energy sector, especially the rate of amendments to the law. the representatives of EDPR and Energix noted that limitations on wind investments mean that there are few opportunities for projects to develop on the market. A restriction of particular note is the continuing prohibition on the construction of wind farms within a distance of less than ten times the turbine’s total height of buildings. The panelists from Denmark and Germany remarked that although the applicable law in their markets also changes, investors are given prior notice of such changes. The panelists noted the most common problems arising during due diligence, including, for example: imprecise wind measurements, limitations on turbines in administrative decisions, difficulties in identifying the chain of title to projects. The panelists also agreed that transactions in the RES sector are not only legally challenging but also socially challenging, and thus require one to establish good relations with the local authorities and residents. The importance of stability in legal regulations, dialogue with investors and a clear national strategy for energy transition were also emphasized during this panel.

The panel was moderated by Agnieszka Wiercińska-Krużewska and Jakub Jędrzejak, partners at WKB, who regularly advise clients on RES sector transactions.

AEEC (Associated European Energy Consultants) is an international network of law firms founded in 2000, which specializes in energy law. its members are leading experts in their countries and deal with all legal matters related to the energy and infrastructure sector. AEEC offers its members a platform to exchange their knowledge and experience of national energy markets, as well as the ability to cooperate on joint international projects. In 2013 and 2014, AEEC was recognized as the No. 1 European legal network in Chambers Global Guide.