“On 23 September Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne announced a period of threat on the capacity market for the first time in history.This was caused by insufficient reserve in our power system.Luckily, the situation did not end in a blackout, but the future is uncertain.If we do not unblock RES development, in particular onshore wind, and fail to promote efficient energy storage, the situation may repeat,” said Professor Piotr Kacejko from Lublin University of Technology, Member of the Committee on Electrical Engineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences, co-author of the “COAL+WIND. RES and Conventional Sources to Secure Poland’s Energy Security” report.
In the era of Russian blackmail, energy crisis and skyrocketing energy prices, solutions that build independence and energy security are key. War in Ukraine not only caused a shock in Europe, but also significantly affected the continent’s economic situation, starting with hydrocarbons, through energy market, to food. European Union realised that energy security must be built anew basing on different resources. This led to the REPowerEU initiative, emphasizing the development of RES and increase in energy efficiency.
“Wind energy is energy of freedom. The resource cannot be limited by any dictator or regime, it doesn’t have to be imported from afar with ships or pipelines or paid millions of dollars for. In Poland, onshore wind should be unblocked as soon as possible to “dilute” high electricity prices and decrease the country’s demand for imported hydrocarbons and increase capacity available in the power system,” said Janusz Gajowiecki, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association.
Notwithstanding the variability of external conditions, ensuring energy security of the country remains the most important purpose of energy policy and a key competence of the responsible government. The energy threat announced by PSE demonstrated that capacity shortage may prove a significant challenge in the future. The situation should be a lesson that if no appropriate investment is made in the energy sector soon, the issue we are facing will escalate.
“Renewable energy sources are the key answer to transition challenges. Their variability and dependence on the weather is not a vice, but a property we have to accept. This will be possible when RES installations in a power system will collaborate with state-of-the-art supercritical conventional units and, in time, nuclear plants, as well as sub-peak and peak units and energy storage facilities. The total RES capacity at the level of 60 GW will enable the use of periodic generation surplus in the PGP (Power to Gas, Gas to Power) formula and effective balancing of electricity demand throughout the entire year,” said Professor Piotr Kacejko from Lublin University of Technology, Member of the Committee on Electrical Engineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Cooperation between wind and coal at the heart of Silesia
The plan for a modern, stable and safe power system features cooperation between renewable energy sources and state-of-the-art coal units. This is discussed in the “COAL+WIND. RES and Conventional Sources to Secure Poland’s Energy Security” report by Polish Wind Energy Association. This is a breakthrough — the report was launched in headquarters of Zarząd Regionu Śląsko-Dąbrowskiego NSZZ Solidarność as a tribute to the new story of cooperation between RES and conventional sources to contribute to energy security of Poland.
“It is a widespread opinion that coal-based energy is an opposition to renewable energy sources. It’s high time to change that state of mind and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the sources without any prejudice, and to exploit them. Wind energy is carbon-free, but weather-dependent. Coal is stable, but carbon intensive. Together the two may eliminate each other’s weaknesses. On the road to implementation of state-of-the-art and efficient renewable energy sources, conventional, coal-based generation is the ally of renewable energy. Today, the development of the Polish energy sector should be based on building, not decommissioning energy sources. Poland needs a civilisation leap that will encompass new technologies developing renewable energy sources,” emphasized Grzegorz Tobiszowski, MEP.
“Without doubt we are facing cooperation of growing large-scale renewable sources with baseload coal-fired units. Their function should gradually evolve to adapt to RES variability. Coal units broadly included in the “200+ Group” should in the future, following a relevant upgrade, shift to being so-called sub-peak sources that operate with limited capacity, subject to more frequent shutdowns. RES will gradually takeover certain system regulation tasks. However, in the nearest future conventional sources will continue to guarantee the security and flexibility of the National Power System,” said Professor Piotr Kacejko, co-author of the report.
It is estimated that in 2026 Poland will need 192 TWh of electricity (where TWh is a billion kilowatt-hours). The developing RES will provide 19 TWh from PV, 36 TWh from onshore wind and 12 TWh from offshore wind. This means that coal- and gas-based conventional energy sector must provide 125 TWh to ensure reliable system balancing.
In 2035 electricity demand will be even higher, reaching 210 TWh. At that time, PV will be able to provide 27 TWh, onshore wind — 70 TWh and offshore wind — 79 TWh. Conventional sources need to provide additional 51 TWh.
“Renewable energy sources, in particular wind, are not a competition for the traditionally-perceived coal-fired energy, but actually supplement it. The upcoming changes to the energy sector demonstrate that the two technologies may perfectly supplement each other during the transition. Poland needs both coal and RES to achieve power system stability,” said Janusz Gajowiecki, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association.
The way to secure a stable supply of energy is blocked by the lack of appropriate regulations. The act unblocking wind power development has been submitted by the government to the Sejm, but still has not been processed further. This is strange given the vast public support for such changes — today, no political party enjoys such a high support in Poland as RES. At the peak of a crisis related to coal shortage and skyrocketing electricity prices more than 60 percent Polish citizens want urgent adoption of an act liberalising wind farm development, return to more advantageous solutions for PV and implementation of a local biogas plant progamme, an IBRiS poll for “Rzeczpospolita” reveals.