The next years will feature cooperation of growing large-scale renewables with baseload coal-fired units. The Polish Wind Energy Association and the Lower Silesian Institute for Energy Studies propose how to smartly combine the two in the joint “Cooperation of conventional coal sources and large-scale RES” report.
The Polish and European energy sectors have been undergoing substantial changes thanks to the development of new technologies and a changing legal environment over the past few years. We have to face civilisation challenges while fulfilling international commitments. The key change drivers in the production sector in Europe and Poland include the European Union’s energy and climate policy together with the so-called Winter Package as well as global agreements, concluded during COP21 in Paris and COP24 in Katowice.
Although each European country is at a different stage in the transformation of their energy production structure, all strive to reduce CO2 emissions, among others by increasing the share of renewable energy.
“Poland will follow the global trends and develop generating capacity based on renewable energy sources. However, at the same time the country should use its conventional resources in a more effective manner,” argues Remigiusz Nowakowski, President of the Lower Silesian Institute for Energy Studies.
“In the nearest future, coal-fired units will continue to guarantee the security and flexibility of the national power system. Efficient, modern coal units are necessary to enable further development of renewable energy. Therefore, key investment decisions are crucial today. State-of-the-art coal units currently under construction will guarantee the security of the Polish power system for the next 30-40 years. They will also enable system integration of increasing volume of renewables, primarily wind, whose construction will no longer require financial support. The measures planned by the Ministry of Energy demonstrate that one needs not to ponder how to combine the two apparently very different sources, bot how to exploit the synergy between conventional and renewable sources to develop the sustainable energy security of Poland,” Deputy Minister for Energy, Grzegorz Tobiszowski remarked.
The decades to come in the Polish energy sector will see an increase in the installed renewables capacity. The majority of the growth will be attributed to wind energy, today being the least expensive source of renewable electricity, as well as solar PV, whose prices exhibit the most dynamic decrease today.
Following the auctions held in 2018 and scheduled for 2019, 6 GW of wind turbines already operating in Poland will soon be joined by subsequent wind farms. This will cause the installed capacity of onshore wind in Poland to reach approximately 10 GW.
More importantly, onshore wind farms will in a few years be joined by offshore installations, attracting substantial interest among national and foreign investors. Soon we will have 6 GW installed in the Baltic Sea; eventually, plans provide for 10 GW.
“New wind farms are gaining a cost advantage over other new generation sources. On the other hand, operating farms are already lowering the wholesale price of energy. An increase in such capacities will reduce the costs of Poland’s energy transformation and increase the energy independence of the country, providing a number of regulatory services,” Janusz Gajowiecki, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) said. Considering the consistent increase in demand for electricity, amounting to approximately 1.6 percent each year, this is not enough. To ensure a sufficient volume of electricity to power economic growth, today we need all types of electricity. Both green – because it delivers cheaper electricity, it reduces energy imports and provides greater energy independence; it provides local jobs and benefits to local communities. – and from fossil fuels, to backup renewable energy sources,” he added.
This is because the majority of power plants in Poland have been built in the 1970s and 1980s. More than half of generation units in operation (approximately 54 percent) have been operational for more than 30 years. Thus, almost 20.5 GW of capacity will have to be decommissioned and substituted with new units by 2035. Technological progress, in particular in the field of renewable energy sources, already enables to build price-competitive sources producing clean electricity. Therefore, our energy mix will gradually evolve towards renewables.
Adjustments to the energy production structure, entailing economic transformation, require particular attention to social issues. The fair transformation of coal-based regions, such as Silesia, requires not only time, but also money.
Silesia, under the Regional Team for Mining Regions Initiatives established several months ago, is attempting to obtain as much funds for bottom-up initiatives from the Just Energy Transition Fund as possible. The Marshal’s Office, next to PWEA, is a member to the Coal Regions in Transition (CRiT) platform. Regions like Silesia stand to benefit from the growth of wind energy: not only does the wind industry provide clean and sustainable energy, it also contributes to local economies by providing jobs and skills, and rejuvenating economies. The skills required for workers in the coal industry are easily transferable to the wind industry –this skills transfer has already helped make Poland one of the leading centres of the wind supply chain in Europe.