Is it an inflated or punctured balloon of green transformation plans? Again, because of the election?

Poland’s green transition is moving at an electoral rhythm. When it fits, it accelerates and swells like a balloon; when it’s inconvenient, it begins to deflate. We have entered a phase of bipartisanship again – something different to Brussels, something different with the blink of an eye – to our citizens.  A preliminary version of the NAPE (Poland’s climate plan) was just sent to Brussels in the week, which was probably pre-secret, as it was not (for starters) given to any media or for any consultation. The leaks (via a circuitous route from Brussels) showed 50% of energy from RES in 2030 and 59% a decade later (which is ambitious and “ballooning,” by the way coal mining is to be reduced to 30 million tons a year). As the slides showed, the NERC and this officially were presented at the press conference. It is worth recalling that the Coalition’s program declaration (before the government was formed) spoke of 65% RES in 2030 (admittedly without details whether it was energy or perhaps only installed capacity), not to mention the transfer of 100% of the funds from CO2 fees to the Energy Transformation Fund (this has fallen entirely silent).  However, it should be remembered that [the first version of the NERC is a draft of the baseline scenario (the so-called WEM), and there is yet to be an “ambitious” version (WAM) and a more substantial transformation.

On the other hand… It’s only a draft; the “real” version is expected to appear in late Q2/early Q3. In the meantime, the second “energy” Ministry (Industry) is starting a series of meetings with the mining and coal power generation sector – how to save it all at the time of the price collapse (because low energy prices of raw materials and the offensive of RES) and how much to subsidise from the budget (with the approval of the EU). In the streets, farmers, steelworkers, and miners are burning tyres and protesting against the “Green Deal.” Even the government is slowly softening its stance and talking about “overly ambitious goals and demands” – for the time being more about following the land. Be that as it may – again, the transformation is starting to go – seemingly it is, but not quite there, and the reason is apparent – in a month, everyone is for elections – so controversy must be avoided. Since we have the next one (EU Parliament) after the local elections, the entire amendment of the NERC and synchronisation with the new PEP 2040 should probably be expected in June (and then everything will be revealed and approved – hopefully).  Until then, I would rather be “in the round,” depending on who the message goes to before the election vote. The country on the Vistula River always needs to be vague (because there are always some elections), and there is no single integrated transformational policy. I will refer to California – an American state with an energy system comparable to Poland- as one of the more ambitious plans for change. 90% zero-carbon energy in 2035 and 100% in 2045, and an energy mix based virtually only on RES with battery-based energy storage. The storage facilities are essential to California’s transition, with their capacity increasing from 250 MW (2019) to 5,000 MW today, and plans for almost 20 GW in 2035 and 52 GW in 2045. Of course, in a moment, you can discuss that Poland is not California because, in our country, there are no solar panels or batteries. It always has to be in the black, and it isn’t easy to find a counter-argument that they have Tesla (in real life) and Izera (in plans) in our country.  The analogy may be with the energy system and our industry – we will choose our way.

 The wind (and sun) is again blowing (and shining) PSE’s eyes….

Winter is ending, and the sun is coming out more often… So again, there is a problem (in the Polish energy industry, there is always a problem). This time, if it is a weekend day (low demand), if the wind is blowing, and on top of that, the sun is shining strongly – in a moment, a problem with overproduction. A week ago (March 3), the energy could no longer be packed, and the system operator introduced reductions in RES power at 600-800 MW levels during the early afternoon hours.  One can immediately see the Achilles’ loop of the national system – the lack of flexibility and the ability to take away renewable energy (paradoxically, we don’t have the largest share at all, about 25%) rather than the lack of power in the base. One could look at the example above of California and shift the burden of transformation to storage (and the grid), which will automatically unlock more solar and wind. But what’s the point? You won’t be able to complain that this RES energy is unnecessary (in excess). For the next few days, the PSE Operator is doing great – the sun brings the instantaneous PV capacity to 10 GW (more than 50% of the national load), to go down to zero for the evening and cover almost all the demand from thermal (read coal) power plants. Unfortunately, Sunday, 10.03, saw reductions in RES capacity again, at gigantic levels, and all day long (from 7 am to 5 pm) – from 600 MW in the morning to a record high of over 1,700 MW around noon. Poland’s power industry suddenly has surplus production, which we are throwing in the garbage.  It looks like 2024 will be this kind of swing – as soon as the weather conditions are good, the “classic” power industry will be smothered to the first floor during the day to breathe only in the evening and on Sundays and holidays – production reductions. So why (does this draft of the NERC) say so little about the planned storage, which is the key to the transformation? And it’s scary to think… what will happen when God forbid, we already have that 50% RES (someday)?

Agricultural (and energy) Tuesdays or Wednesdays in Warsaw

Wednesday is another day of agricultural protests on the streets of Warsaw. These protests are supported by hunters, metallurgists, beekeepers and miners (so there’s some energy, too), and generally all the disgruntled. The protesters know what to do and have planned strategies ranging from bringing out tractors on the access roads to walking with flags on the lanes halting access to the centre to the standard tyre burning in front of the Sejm, which has even been expanded with special effects in the form of flares being set off and cobblestone throwing contests. On the part of Varsovians, the problem is not even the protest (slowly, everyone is starting to get used to it) or the priority given to Warsaw (the capital’s residents would be happy to share the protests with other cities), but precisely… the irregularity of the demonstrations. If it were, for example, customary Tuesdays (as it was before) or blockade Wednesdays (as it is now) or perhaps something like the new “Thursday lunches,” it would be possible to plan well for the rhythm of work (e.g., remote), children’s schooling and customary meetings. So, the capital calls for a long-term schedule of protests (at least until the European elections) and designates one fixed day a week to block Warsaw. The city, after all, loves “new secular traditions” and will enthusiastically adapt to them.  As if to meet this demand, new information from the organisers comes out from the last minute – the protests will be on “consecutive Wednesdays” in Warsaw and other cities (reportedly Poznan). The latest labour organisation is greeted enthusiastically by many of the “Warsaw white collars”. In many corporations, there is permanent remote work (usually Mondays and Fridays); now, there will be demonstrations on Wednesdays (so no commute to the office), just two days of vacation or some random events and… a whole week off. So you can … go to the countryside to make a change.

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