Energy Renewables 21 June, 2023 7:30 am   
Wanda Buk. Fot. Polska Grupa Energetyczna

Polish electricity sector in Brussels: Energy mix cannot be based solely on renewables

Zdjecie-WhatsApp-2023-06-20-o-12.55.39 Power Summit 2023. Picture by Jędrzej Stachura

“We need to make sure that every member of the European Union has the ability to effectively supply energy to consumers. However, the electricity system cannot be based only on renewable energy sources, it must be diversified in order to be stable” said Wanda Buk, Vice President of PGE and Polish Electricity Association, at the Power Summit 2023 in Brussels.

During the annual Power Summit 2023 conference in Brussels, participants discussed the electricity systems of the European Union member states and the challenges facing Europe in the face of the resource and energy crisis. They stressed that the key factors that had led to the turmoil in the markets were the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday the PGE VP Wanda Buk, as well as EDF and Uniper heads took part in a panel titled „The Independent Power System of the future – Security of Supply”. All panelists stressed that Europe had the tools to effectively decarbonize, but it was facing many challenges.

“We are as strong as the weakest link in critical infrastructure. Firstly, we need to make sure that every member of the European Union has the ability to effectively supply energy to its customers. However, the system cannot be based only on renewable energy sources, it must be diversified in order to be stable,” said Wanda Buk.

The PGE VP also commented on how EU regulations were drafted. “I am under the impression that the representatives of the European Union, who decide on the shape of legislation, forget about the problems of individual member states. They do not take into account the instability of electricity networks in these countries, including in Poland. They need to remember that not everyone starts from the same point,” she noted.

Wanda Buk was asked if the European Union could have been better prepared and acted more effectively on the security of critical infrastructure. “It is said that generals prepare for battles they have fought in the past. In the face of the current crisis, we do not have such an opportunity, [ … ] therefore, we must be prepared to build European security together with other countries. No country should be left to its own devices, ” said Wanda Buk.

Currently, no one denies the risk of armed conflict and the threat to critical infrastructure – stated Polish Electricity Association and PGE boss Wojciech Dąbrowski at the opening speech. – The pandemic reminded us that capital does have a nationality. Moreover, the full-scale war in Ukraine that has been going on for over a year and the energy blackmail that preceded it have shown that energy resources also have nationality.

– The question is how will we respond to these challenges? In Poland, we want to invest more in renewable energy sources and nuclear power plants. For this we need financial resources and regulatory facilitations on permitting, for example in environmental procedures. At the same time, the principle of technological neutrality should be applied. Technologies contributing to the climate goal must be treated in a similar way by EU regulations – he said.

– To ensure constant supply of electricity, we need stable energy generation and safe fuels supplies, reliable grids and energy storage facilities. Our energy systems must be resilient to cyber and physical threats, such as those faced by our neighbours from Ukraine. Another challenge is linked to extreme weather events and the whole topic of climate adaptation, especially water management. The matter is very complex, but one thing is obvious. We need to better prepare to meet new challenges while strengthening energy security for the entire EU and its individual regions. Energy security must be the cornerstone of any reforms of the European power system – argued Dąbrowski. – The diversification of fuel supplies, technologies and the energy transformation towards climate neutrality are key.

– We believe that the EU responded to the crisis adequately. But the emergency measures including the revenue cap cannot be extended beyond the crisis. Otherwise, the objectives of the European Green Deal will not be achieved. The European Commission is aware of this, but other decision-makers – the European Parliament and the Council – should also bear this in mind – said Wojciech Dąbrowski in Brussels. – Without ensuring energy security it is impossible to achieve climate goals. Energy security is not only about investing in dispatchable generation sources, but also in power grids. Distribution and transmission infrastructure must be in the center of discussion about the effects of the war in Ukraine and energy market design.

– In conclusion, I would like to remind that The Energy Union should cover five closely related dimensions: energy security; the internal energy market; energy efficiency; decarbonisation; and research, innovation and competitiveness. We cannot forget about any of them. Taking into account current circumstances, “security, solidarity and trust” are crucial as never before. I hope that this dimension will be a pillar of a secure European energy system – summed up Polish Electricity Association’s boss.

Jędrzej Stachura