The energy transition reveals challenges related to transmission networks

Luc Williams

The May weekend was marked by limitations on the power of photovoltaics and wind farms. This year, renewable energy sources (RES) have been shut down 20 times. Experts admitted that recent months have been difficult for the energy market. Such large reductions in renewable energy sources have not occurred so far.
– Today, there is an excess of energy in the system during the day and a deficit in the evening. This requires taking specific actions to balance demand with energy generation, said Włodzimierz Mucha, vice-president of the management board of Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne, adding that this problem can be solved. In his opinion, the balancing market has an important role to play in this.

According to experts, a diversified energy pricing, depending on the time of day, would be helpful. If there was a surplus, it would be cheap, which would be an incentive to download it. For manufacturers, this would be a reason to invest in redesigning the installation.

Experts emphasized that there is an opportunity to make energy prices more flexible. The planned reform of the balancing market may be a way to achieve this.

Representatives of the energy sector invited to the conversation assured that they focus on investments to ensure security and certainty of electricity supplies in the changing system. Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne has already sent its transmission network development plans to the Energy Regulatory Office. Investments of PLN 64 billion are planned until 2034. It is to be a flagship project construction of a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) connection connecting the north of Poland with the south, which is to enable the transmission of power from new generation sources to consumers, without excessive burden on the transmission network. The second element of PSE's plan is the proposal for the transmission system operator to build generation resources.

Marcin Laskowski, vice-president of the management board for regulation at PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, emphasized that transmission and distribution networks are the lifeblood of the system.

– Distribution networks are responsible for extracting power from new energy units. From unidirectional or passive, they must become bidirectional, i.e. active – he noted, adding that PGE is allocating large financial resources to adapt the networks to new market requirements, to distributed energy.

Marcin Laskowski – Vice-President of PGE / Press materials

– We are talking about an amount of approximately PLN 4 billion per year, which is allocated to the expansion and modernization of the network, but also its digitization, which involves the introduction of, among others, remote readings of energy consumption or installation of IT systems for managing the distribution network – mentioned Marcin Laskowski.

PGE also focuses on the development of energy storage facilities. In Żarnowiec, Pomerania, it is building a battery energy storage facility with a capacity of over 200 MW and a capacity of over 820 MWh. It will support electricity balancing and integration with the power system of renewable energy sources located in northern Poland, including the planned offshore wind farms. However, the vice-president of PGE noted that in order to balance demand and supply in the system, not only large-scale storage facilities are necessary, but also smaller ones, intended for individual customers, complementing prosumer energy.

– Therefore, our program also includes investments in storage facilities with a capacity of up to 50 MW, as well as those with a capacity of 2 to 20 MW. They will stabilize the market in a distributed system, emphasized Marcin Laskowski.

Experts admitted that energy storage is not yet popular in Poland due to the high price, which affects the profitability of the project. This will change however.

– Especially since energy storage must be looked at holistically – noted Marcin Laskowski.

Experts pointed out that new investments are only one side of the coin. Another is the need to fight speculators operating on the market. Today they exist because the entry barrier for developers is low. In practice, however, they do not implement the planned investments, which spoils the market.

The panelists also talked about the need for regulatory changes to facilitate new projects and the rapid implementation of the EU RED III directive regarding renewable energy sources. Its aim is to accelerate decarbonization and it also sets ambitious goals for the use of renewable energy sources by 2030.
– Access to financing is also important. We are applying for funds from the KPO and structural funds. European funds are necessary to expand the distribution network, emphasized Marcin Laskowski.


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