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Energy 5 July, 2017 9:00 am   
Editorial staff

WN: new record for summer power demand broken – now what?

On Wednesday 28 June a new power demand record in Poland’s energy system was broken. After the introduction of the degrees limitation of power supply in August 2015, the following questions immediately crop up: are we in danger of a blackout? Are we safe? Will power shortages occur? – Justyna Piszczatowska and Bartłomiej Derski, experts of the WysokieNapiecie.pl portal answer these questions.

PSE SA, the Polish Transmission System Operator, informed that on 28 June at 1.30 p.m. the national power demand peaked at 22 883 MW. Thus, last year’s summer record was broken by 135 MW. The reason behind the demand for power in peak periods is simple – during heat waves we use more electricity for cooling. Air conditioners are increasingly more popular and coolers work at fool speed in the summer.

Is the energy system on the security brink this time? No. PSE drew conclusions from previous events. More research has been conducted, which proved that extreme weather conditions in the summer are becoming the new normal and we should be ready to handle them. This is why the modernizations of blocks in power plants, which traditionally took place in the summer, are currently conducted in the spring and fall. This time the situation is a little better because there is no drought.

“The system is in good condition. The number of modernizations and breakdowns is small. The state of rivers flowing next to power plants and water temperature are sufficient for cooling. However, the situation needs to be monitored closely. Up till now, the water temperature increased during the day and went down at night, but the upcoming nights will be warm, which can change the situation,” explained to us an expert versed in the situation of Polish power plants.

In August 2015 the 20th degree limitation of power supply was introduced precisely because of a high number of modernizations, which had to be completed before 1 January 2016 when stricter air protection standards entered into force. A series of malfunctions and no possibility of cooling also contributed to the decision to announce the 20th degree limitation of power supply.

“Since then we launched the link with Lithuania, restored trade with Ukraine and installed phase shifters on the border with Germany and the gas power plant in Włocławek was opened,” explained our source.

The Kozienice and Połaniec power plants (now both part of the Enea Group) were just two of the numerous power plants that had to limit their output in August 2015. The water in the river was too warm to additionally dump into it the water used for cooling the blocks. This time the safety margin is wider. “The current hydrological situation on the Vistula river allows for the power plants in Kozienice and Połaniec to operate at maximum efficiency. Obviously we are constantly monitoring the meteorological and hydrological situation,” explained Piotr Kutkowski, Enea’s spokesman for capacity production.

Before we finished the article, PSE had not yet released the details on the capacity generated by individual power plants at the peak moment and information on the power balance (PSE releases this data at 9:30 a.m. the next day). However, we did have access the 24-hour schedule for 28 June. It expected a 1000 MW reserve. It was expected that generation in wind farms and import would yield similar capacity. The majority of power demand was, as always, covered by coal sources.

We ascertained with other sources that between 1 and 2 p.m. coal installations provided 17.1 GW and wind 1 GW. Import’s contribution was also significant. We bought 1.84 GW from Germany, Lithuania and Sweden.

It is often said in Poland that the wind is not the best solution at the times of crisis. The country’s typical weather in the summer is characterized by high temperatures and little wind. This is why specialists propose to expand the country’s solar capacity, which would be ideal for balancing summer demand spikes with, e.g. an additional 2 GW.

To sum up, if no major breakdown happens, energy supply in Poland in the nearest future will be safe. However, this is only the beginning of summer and we do not have detailed weather forecast for August. It seems very real that the Wednesday’s record will be broken.

Is PSE ready? Read more on wysokienapiecie.pl