From the beginning of 2024, six Special Energy Zones (SEnZ) may start operating in northern Poland. They are intended to provide a kind of incentive for potential investors to locate energy-intensive industries as close as possible to new large-scale generation sources.
The choice of northern Poland is not accidental. It is precisely in these regions that the largest investments in renewable energy sources – offshore and onshore wind energy or large PV installations – are planned or being executed. In addition, it is also the place where Poland’s first nuclear power plant is expected to be built.
The accumulation of investments in new generation units at a large distance from the largest electricity consumers (energy-intensive industries located mainly in the south of Poland), creates a significant challenge for the National Electricity System. The establishment of Special Energy Zones is intended, inter alia, to improve the energy efficiency of the transmission infrastructure used (reduction of long-distance transmission), while at the same time reducing or phasing over time the financial outlays necessary for grid investments.
Furthermore, due to increasingly strong environmental requirements, including issues related to sustainability, the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities or ESG implementation measures, new investors require the maximum possible access to green energy.
However, the benefits of investing in SEnZ are only intended for the largest recipients, with an annual electricity consumption of more than 100 GWh. They can count on a reduction in the quality charge and the variable network charge. The zones are expected to be established in locations with well-developed road and rail infrastructure, and in addition, some of them will gain access to the natural gas transmission network. Investors will, however, most likely be obliged to make additional investments in large energy storage facilities.
The creation of Special Energy Zones will require close cooperation of electricity and gas transmission system operators with the market regulator, government administration and local authorities.