Without a doubt Poland’s power industry’s biggest potential lies in the construction of intelligent electric grids. This is an area of development that has been discussed for years. However, no political declarations confirming this will be Poland’s strategy have been made yet – says Piotr Wojciechowski, WB Group CEO in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: What is the growth strategy for WB Group when it comes to solutions for the power industry?
Piotr Wojciechowski: The future looks very promising considering Poland’s power industry is facing huge modernization challenges. The grid is under increasing strain and is getting old. Additionally, transmission and maintenance costs are growing. If we add to this the requirement to increase the amount of power produced from renewable sources, we will see that it would be more sound to actually design and construct a new electricity system from scratch.
The key idea guiding this process should be to increase efficiency in energy usage. It is important to lower exploitation costs through better management of provided energy. This will decrease the amount of energy needed to maintain the correct functioning of infrastructure. This is what the solutions offered by WB Group provide.
We have been part and parcel of the energy market for years. Still, our presence in this sector is not very well-known, because it is overshadowed by our successes in the defense industry. Despite that we put a high priority on this area because it offers professional and demanding clients, which perfectly complements our development strategy. The scope of our engagement is confirmed by the fact that we employ about 130 people who deal with our energy and e-mobility projects. Additionally, over the past few years we have invested PLN 30 million in developing technologies related to the energy market.
Considering the domestic circumstances this is a large sum, which shows how much we contribute to Poland’s energy sector. The Group has been specializing in IT systems for years, and we are already providing state-of-the-art data transmission solutions to grid operators. Currently Energa Operator is using about 40 thousand of our inQL routers that are used for remote reading of energy meters, operating transformer stations and monitoring the grid. We also supply the Polish State Railways (PKP) with DIMaC- EK and DIMaC-OE systems. These solutions enable efficient management of power used to heat railway junctions and control lighting on train stations.
What are the WB Group’s biggest energy projects that are currently being implemented or will be in the near future?
Currently the Group is pursuing two large energy-related projects. The first one is in the e-mobility sector and is called QUARK, the other one is SARSA and deals with electric grids.
As part of the QUARK project our sister company Arex has constructed a 4×4 electric drive platform. Additionally, we have also designed technologies for power inverters, energy storage units and Battery Management Systems, voltage converters and chargers for cars built with cutting-edge electric components. All of these technologies belong to us. Their development was possible thanks to our own investments and funds from the National Centre for Research and Development.
SARSA is a research project pursued by Mindmade and WG Group as part of a consortium with PGE Dystrybucja and Apator Elkomtech. The project participates in a competition launched by the National Centre and is co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund under the “Smart Growth Operational Program 2014-2020”.
SARSA is important because its implementation will help grid operators to handle one of the biggest issues they are currently facing, i.e. energy supply interruptions caused by numerous failures in the electric grid caused by natural events.
SARSA precisely locates where the failure occurred, disconnects the broken section and restores power in no more than 21 seconds. This is possible thanks to our engineers who designed an autonomous communication system that is independent of the outside infrastructure.
Together with our partners we will soon be testing this unique in the world solution. SARSA proves that state-of-the-art tools for data and power transmission management play a crucial role in the energy system.
Where do you see WB Group’s potential for growth in the Polish energy sector in the next decade?
Without a doubt Poland’s power industry’s biggest potential lies in the construction of intelligent electric grids. This is an area of development that has been discussed for years. However, no political declarations confirming this will be Poland’s strategy have been made yet.
The second area with a huge growth potential is the entire e-mobility sector that will be expanding dramatically across the world in the coming years.
The WB Group is very well versed in both of these areas. Our business philosophy is to create cutting-edge technological solutions, which is why we will be offering Poland’s power industry our products for constructing intelligent grids and developing e-mobility.
Which areas and technologies are a priority for WB Group?
At WB we are continuously perfecting our leading solutions. We have to be doing this to remain a market leader, not just in Poland. We are developing and honing our IT systems, data transmission systems, radio communication systems and unmanned platforms.
Over half of our staff are engineers who work in research and development departments. Actually, one could say that we design a new solution every day. Our reality is the future.
Currently we are working on increasing the autonomy of our products through linking them with AI and machine learning.
According to the WB Group, which world markets are the most promising when it comes to defense and civilian business?
We have been present in various markets for years, including South-East Asia, the Middle East and Northern America. Of course we are relentlessly striving to enter new markets.
Our strategy is based on the idea that we are able to provide our clients with unique solutions custom-made for their needs. This is why we do not stay put and plan to develop our sales on the global scale.
Considering the “monopolization” of the Polish market by state-owned defense companies, which market is more attractive to the Group – the domestic or foreign?
The WB Group is Polish capital only and we employ Polish engineers, so our domestic market has always been a priority. This will never change.
All the more that we are often the only company that is able to offer solutions with the perfect quality and price that are fully adapted to the needs of our consumers, created in close cooperation with the users and a deep understanding of their needs.
We are a large, reliable supplier with a potential guaranteed by decades of cooperation and a stable financial situation. This is why we are able to pursue huge projects that other, smaller companies, would not be able to handle.
However, in order to supply the domestic market with successful solutions at a competitive price, we cannot limit our strategy to local clients. This is why since the beginning we have been developing exports and providing our products to various states.
A good example of this is the cooperation between our daughter company Polcam with Applied Concepts Inc. from the US. The company sells SmartEye radars on our license on the US market and elsewhere. This means today our radars are used by the police not only in the States, but also in South America and Indonesia.
Interview by Mariusz Marszałkowski