Although so far Poland has been primarily an exporter of electricity, this has changed significantly recently. In the current situation, connections with neighbors can be crucial to maintaining the stability of the system. Especially if the concerns about the shortage of coal for Polish power plants are confirmed.
The situation is completely different from the year before – in 2021, we had a positive balance since July – we sold more energy than we imported.
And although, taking into account the time since January, we remain an exporter of energy (1092 GWh “positive”), and even exported more than a year ago in total, the trend has been changing in recent months. In September, we imported 40.5 GWh more than our neighbors received.
This is the fourth month when the balance is negative. In September, we “imported” 696.8 GWh, ie almost 200 GWh more than the year before. Mainly due to the search for savings by Polish producers.
We have described in Business Insiderthat power plants are forced to manage their coal more modestly before the winter season. And this translates into the available powers. In September Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne for the first time announced the period of threat to the capacity market – this meant that the capacity reserve turned out to be very low, which could endanger supplies to some recipients.
Where do we import electricity from?
We import the most from Sweden – 3,026 GWh since the beginning of the year, which is almost twice as much as the second in the “ranking” of Lithuania (1618.6 GWh). No wonder, the Scandinavians have relatively cheap electricity thanks to more than 60 percent. RES share in the energy mix.
This is why the SwePol Link cable is located at the bottom of the Baltic Sea is one of the most important foreign connections for the Polish system. Last Sunday, the connection was disconnected due to a failure, but the day after it was restored.
Germany is followed by sales of energy to Poland, with sales of 1,127.7 GWh. Last month, they even managed to overtake the Swedes (as can be seen on the map provided). Overall, imports from our western neighbor in 2022 are still lower a year ago – at that time they reached 1,737.2 GWh.
The connection with Ukraine is gaining importance
On the other hand, imports from Ukraine are growing. In the first nine months of 2021, it amounted to 718.1 GWh. Now it is 1026.9 GWh.
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The connection with Ukraine is likely to gain even more importance in the near future. Currently, Poland uses only electricity produced from the coal-fired Dobrotwór power plant, but another connection between Rzeszów and the Chmielnik Nuclear Power Plant is to be built soon, which Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced in Kiev.
Small but essential import
The share of imports in the scale of the entire Polish system is usually negligible. In 2021, energy consumption was a record 180.3 TWh, while imports were only 15.10 TWh, which would mean 8.37 percent. It does not mean, however, that it is irrelevant.
Although imported energy accounts for a small percentage of domestic demand, it can sometimes prove necessary and act as a kind of stabilizer. This is sometimes the case at peak times of demandin unfavorable weather conditions, when you cannot count on increased work of windmills and photovoltaics. Intervention imports may then be necessary to prevent partial blackouts.
Where do we sell energy to?
Taking into account the period from January to September, Slovakia ranks first among the importers of energy exported by us, which received 4,015.8 GWh from us (almost three times more than the year before). Also in September, we sold the most energy to our southern neighbor (376 GWh). Thus, Slovakia replaced the Germans (from January to September 2,619.7), who held the leading position a year ago.
On the other hand, we exported the least to Sweden – in September, exports to the Baltic Sea were practically non-existent. From January to August it was 115.4 GWh, which is more than two times less than the year before.
Negative balance, but exports are booming
Overall, due to the pan-European energy crisis, we sold much more in the first nine months than the year before.
According to PSE data, in 2021 we exported 5,573.9 GWh by September. This time it was as much as 8358 GWh.
Why did we export much more than we import, although in times of crisis there is a lot of talk about potential shortages? Although we complain about record-high energy, the energy coming from Poland still remains very attractive to our neighbors.
Also read: The cheapest energy in Poland in Europe. Not only because it started blowing
The factor discouraging from importing energy was … the price. Although in Poland the burden of the electricity price with emission allowances (ETS) is relatively high and it reaches record values, compared to what is happening on foreign markets, it is not so excessive in absolute terms. However, these are not dizzying values. According to Forum Energii, in 2021 Poland exported the most since 2016, i.e. 14.21 TWh. Taking into account the entire production at that time, it was approx. 7.92 percent.
Grzegorz Kowalczyk, journalist at Business Insider Polska