WARSAW - Poland is considering a ban on building wind farms close to houses, a move the industry fears may block new investment in renewable energy sources and bolster coal's role in the economy.
Under European Union rules, Poland - which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal - has to produce 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 compared to around 12 percent now.
Since 2005, installed wind farm capacity has risen from 83 megawatt (MW) to more than 4 gigawatt (GW), taking Poland closer to the target but more is needed to comply with the EU target.
A parliament committee asked the government earlier this week to look into how wind farms are being built in the countryside. It said new regulations were needed regarding the distance between wind farms and houses.
Some lobbies fear the Law and Justice Party (PiS), which won parliamentary elections in October, may revive a plan to ban their construction within 3 km of houses and forests.
"When it comes to the distance, this is still subject to discussion. But it is obvious that the construction conditions should be more citizen-friendly," said PiS member Piotr Naimski.
Detailed plans of the new regulations are still unknown. In a letter the parliamentarians only asked the government to start work on new regulations that would define the distance, "due to the uncontrolled expansion of wind farms on village areas".
"Setting fixed distances between wind farms and buildings and forests at 3 km would completely prevent professional wind farm business from expanding," Wojciech Cetnarski, the head of the Polish Wind Energy Association said.
"With this distance proposed by PiS there would be no room in Poland for building new wind farms," he added.
The lobby argues that the Polish regulations on building wind farms are similar to other EU states and that each investment is approved individually, depending on terrain, wind farm height and the vicinity to houses.
The new law would add to the industry's complaints over the Polish legal framework.
Last year Poland approved a law laying out long-term subsidies for renewable energy, but the new energy minister has already said it could be implemented later than planned.