Poland’s new Biogas Act to accelerate plant permit-granting process

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Last month Poland's government published the first draft of new legislation designed to facilitate the preparation and development of agricultural biogas projects.
The new Biogas Act aims to significantly increase the number of biogas plants, with the government seeing advantages in biogas' flexibility and ability to generate electricity over a greater part of the year than other renewable energy sources.
The Biogas Act includes the following legislative measures intended to simplify and facilitate biogas development:
- The siting of biogas plants will be made a lot easier using existing zoning plans. The draft Biogas Act proposes to treat biogas plants as farm buildings, which means that plans originally developed for such buildings will not need to be adapted;
- The classification of biogas plants under agricultural and land development laws will also change. Farmland will no longer require rezoning in order to develop a biogas plant. The Biogas Act will thus increase the area of available land and help avoid the costs of excluding land from agricultural production;
- The hurdles to obtaining a zoning permit for a biogas plant will be lowered as fewer parties will be required to participate in zoning permit proceedings. The zoning law will thus pose less of an obstacle regardless of whether the area in question has a zoning plan or not;
- The procedure of obtaining a building permit and grid connection conditions will be accelerated. The Act gives authorities 65 days to issue a zoning permit and 45 days to grant a building permit, whereas the distribution system operator will have 90 days to issue grid connection conditions.
- The draft Biogas Act also narrows down the circle of those eligible under the new relaxed regime to those conducting agricultural activity in which a biogas plant will be an integral element of their agricultural farm. The capacity of a biogas plant covered by the new regulations is limited to 3.5 MW, and the sale of such a biogas plant will only be effective if the buyer is an eligible entity.
The Biogas Act has the potential to stimulate the development of biogas plants. Legislative work is currently in the initial stages.

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