- In July, gas power plants accounted for only 4.6 percent. electricity production in Poland. A year earlier, this share reached almost 8%.
- Power engineers explain the stops with the low water level in rivers or with “operating conditions”
- As in the case of coal, there are growing concerns about whether there is enough gas for power plants and heating plants in winter
- The importance of gas energy in Poland will grow, because the blocks for this fuel are to replace old coal installations. Some are already under construction
- More important information can be found on the Onet homepage
More than 40 percent energy production from domestic gas units fell year on year in July. This is by far the strongest rock burst of all power sources. Hard coal power plants, which are the basis of the Polish energy system, decreased by 16% at that time. We described the situation of coal blocks in July. We then revealed that black fuel power plants are massively turning down their capacity to save coal for the winter. Although they have contracted deliveries by the end of the year, they are still concerned about whether the coal will actually reach them in the winter. When reporting power losses, they usually enter “unavailability due to operating conditions” in the justification.
A similar slogan is now used by gas-based energy producers. Power losses are reported, for example, by Elektrociepłownia Włocławek, belonging to the Orlen Group. It produces energy not only for the needs of the group’s fuel fertilizers factory – Anwil, but also supplies the national power grid. However, the current record gas prices are not conducive to the production of energy from this fuel. Today, blue fuel is ten times more expensive than a year ago.
Additionally Anwil temporarily stopped the production of nitrogen fertilizers – precisely because of expensive gas, which is a key raw material not only for the production of energy, but also fertilizers. This will also have an impact on the utilization rate of the Włocławek block. Orlen has recently reported partial power losses due to “operating conditions” at the Płock CHP plant.
– The operation of gas units is optimized on an ongoing basis, taking into account market conditions. The situation on the gas market is one of the many factors taken into account when adjusting the load levels of gas blocks, explains the Orlen press office.
Drought takes water from power stations
Another problem of the power plant is drought. Due to the low water level in San, Elektrociepłownia Stalowa Wola (ECSW), owned by PGNiG and Tauron, cannot operate at full capacity.
– The reported loss of power indicates that the flow in the river is so low that the ECSW cannot use the maximum amount of water for cooling purposes without violating the provisions of the integrated permit. Unfortunately, ECSW is not able to predict the duration of such a state – explains Dariusz Mączka, a member of the ECSW board. However, it ensures that the operator can force the unit to work in the event of a threat to the security of electricity supply in the country.
– Unit power does not depend on gas prices. The volume of electricity production sold to consumers was established well in advance. Tall gas price has no effect on already concluded contracts. The expensive gas fuel has an impact on the possibility of concluding spot contracts and possible extortion by PSE (operator of the national power grid – editor’s note) in order to balance the power system – adds Mączka.
Due to the lack of extortion by the operator and the lack of contracts on the spot market at current prices, the utilization rate of the block in Stalowa Wola was only 3% in July.
– The unit operated in the first ten days of July and was then placed in reserve – informs Mączka.
According to the Jagiellonian Institute, the use of the Żerań gas block in Warsaw has also dropped significantly – from 55 percent. in June up to 11 percent. July.
Strong decline, but ambitious plans
In 2021, gas power plants were responsible for 8 percent. domestic electricity production. In July this year, however, this share fell to 4.6%. We produced more energy, among others from windmills, although in July 2021 gas blocks were towering over wind farms.
Lower use of gas blocks will allow for storing larger amounts of blue fuel before winter. As with coal, also with gas There are growing concerns about whether we have enough fuel for the heating season. The more so as gas is an important raw material also in heating, or for chemical plants, which in turn supply their products to many other sectors of the economy, including to the food industry. The turmoil on the gas market, caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, may result in problems with the availability of this fuel throughout Europe in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Poland is planning large investments in gas energy. The new blocks are to replace worn-out coal-fired units, which will be gradually phased out in the coming years. The Polish government in the Polish energy policy predicted that by 2040 the capacity of installations using blue fuel will increase from 2.7 GW in 2020 to 8.5 GW in 2040 (power plants and combined heat and power plants). It would mean that in two decades, about 17 percent. electricity in Poland would be produced from gas. It cannot be ruled out, however, that the current raw material crisis will verify these plans.
However, some blocks are already under construction. Polska Grupa Energetyczna is currently constructing two gas units at Dolna Odra Power Plant in Nowy Czarnów (West Pomeranian Voivodeship) with a total capacity of 1.34 GW. The value of the investment, including maintenance services, will amount to PLN 4.7 billion net. The planned completion date is the end of 2023.
Later this year, Energa from the Orlen Group will start the construction of a gas and steam power plant in Grudziądz. The installation is to start in 2025. Energa is also investing in Ostrołęka Power Plantwhere a unit powered by blue fuel will be erected at the site of the discontinued construction of the coal block.
Many heating plants, which so far were based on coal and which were overwhelmed by the high costs of CO2 emissions, are also switching over to gas.
Author: Barbara Oksińska, journalist from Business Insider Polska