1. What electricity storage projects have been commissioned in your jurisdiction to date?
In May 2015 the Polish transmission system operator (PSE S.A.) concluded a feasibility study agreement with other Polish energy companies (Energa Operator S.A. and Energa Wytwarzanie S.A.) and a Japanese consortium led by Hitachi Ltd. The agreement’s objective is to increase the security of the Polish energy system by developing smart grids and electricity storage facilities. The project involves utilising electricity storage facilities to help balance the national electricity system if wind sources generate a large amount of electricity. It also limits the risk of having to turn off wind turbines. The project receives financial support from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, a Japanese governmental organisation.
A letter of intent has been signed concerning another project, which is to be carried out by the leading Polish energy group, PGE S.A., and the gas transmission system operator, Gaz-System S.A.. Excess electricity from wind farms is to be utilised in a completely different way in a power-to-gas installation. The electricity will be used in an electrolysis process to produce hydrogen, a zero-emission fuel.
The Polish company Tauron Wytwarzanie S.A. is working on an advanced technology which transforms CO2 from industrial installations into synthetic natural gas (SNG) by a process called methanation. This process involves reacting the CO2 with hydrogen derived from electrolysis of water. In order to power the process the company will use excess electricity produced from renewable energy sources, mainly at night when electricity consumption decreases. The commencement of a functioning installation is planned for Q1 2017.
Another electricity storage project is to be carried out by Polish company Novavis and Storion Energy Inc., part of the American holding ITN Energy Systems Inc., which signed an investment memorandum in September 2015. The parties plan to build a factory in Poland and start producing innovative electricity storage systems using Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB). With the support of Polish scientists, the parties are planning to begin intensive works on the improvement of the effectiveness of the batteries. The estimated value of the investment is EUR 10m. At the first stage of production, the main market will be Western Europe, in particular Germany.
Finally, by the end of September 2016 the company Energa-Operator, a Polish Distribution System Operator, is planning to complete the construction of a local distribution network balancing area, the first of its kind in Poland. This is a separate part of the distribution system where energy production and demand is balanced in order to ensure security of supply and improve energy efficiency. It will include a 0.75 MW capacity electric energy store, which will constitute a key element in the construction of a modern smart-grid. The company also plans to build a photovoltaic farm and carry out advanced research.
2. What electricity storage projects are anticipated in your jurisdiction in coming years?
Despite the fact that electricity storage is becoming a “hot topic” in Poland, it is still quite a new subject here. Thus, projects planned for the coming years are still at an early stage of development. One of them is the new research programme commenced by the Polish Gas Company. The Company created a special department to pursue research on feeding hydrogen into the distribution network and storing electric energy.
It is only a matter of time until new projects get started, as the Polish government is encouraging companies to increase their interest in energy storage.
3. Is there any specific legislation/regulation or programme that relates to energy storage in your jurisdiction?
As electricity storage is a relatively undeveloped field in Poland, there are still no detailed acts in Polish law which refer to it. However, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (“RES Act”) defines an electricity storage facility as a dedicated facility or group of facilities where electric energy generated as a result of technological or chemical processes is stored in a different form. The RES Act also specifies that an electricity storage facility should be considered a part of a renewable energy source installation.
4. Please give examples of challenges facing energy storage projects in your jurisdiction and how current projects have overcome these challenges.
Research and Development remains a key barrier to the sector. It is crucial for the Polish government to commence advanced research on electric energy storage to find new solutions and technologies in the storage sector. The plan is to focus on one innovative key investment which will guarantee the progress of the whole energy sector and allow Polish players to be competitive on the global market.
5. What are the main entities in the electricity sector and what are their roles or expected roles in relation to energy storage?
Currently the Minister of Energy is the most important position that can actually influence the electricity market. His competence provided in the Energy Law Act covers preparing state energy policy, which should include plans for developing electric energy storage in the country. This will not be possible without the support of transmission and distribution system operators and other Polish energy companies which are conducting many surveys and works on new storage technologies. These technologies should enable Poland to manage its own resources in a better way. As can be understood from the above list of pending projects, companies are considering an ever-widening variety of possibilities aimed at improving this sector.