Intensive modernization and reconstruction of the energy sector takes place throughout the world. The EU climate and energy policy will have a huge impact on the development of the energy sector in the coming years. The European Union has adopted ambitious goals of transforming towards a low-carbon economy and the integration of the energy market. In June 2015, the G7 countries announced that they will move away from coal fired energy generation. Germany, which has adopted one of the most ambitious energy transformation programs among all industrialized countries, is leading these transformations. The long-term strategy, which has been implemented for many years, allowed for planning the fundamental transformation of the energy sector; after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Germany opted for a total withdrawal from nuclear energy and coal in favor of renewable energy. The German energy transformation is mainly based on wind and solar energy. Germany is the fifth economic power in the world and the largest economy in Europe. Therefore, the German energy policy affects the energy policy of the neighboring countries. The article presents the main assumptions of the German energy policy (referred to as Energiewende). It also presents the impact of changes in the German energy sector on the development of energy systems in selected European countries.
The paper presents brown coal as one of the two basic domestic energy raw materials apart from hard coal. Historically, the use of brown coal in Poland is primarily fuel for the power plants. It was used for the production of lignite briquettes in small quantities and as fuel for local boiler houses and as an addition to the production of fertilizers (Konin and Sieniawa). At present, after changes in the case of the quality of fuels used in local boiler plants, brown coal remains as a fuel for the power plants in almost 100%. Currently, the brown coal industry produces about 35% of the cheapest electricity. The cost of electricity production is more than 30% lower than the second basic fuel – hard coal. The existing fuel and energy complexes using brown coal, with the Bełchatów complex at the forefront, are now an important guarantor of Poland’s energy security. In contrast to the other fuels such as: oil, natural gas or hard coal, the cost of electricity production from brown coal is predictable in the long term and almost insensitive to fluctuations in global commodity and currency markets. Its exploitation is carried out using the high technological solutions and respecting all environmental protection requirements, both in the area of coal extraction and electricity generation. Importantly, the fuel and energy complexes using brown coal showed a positive profitability so far and generated surpluses enabling the financing of maintenance and development investments, also in other energy segments. In particular, the sector did not require and has yet not benefited from public aid in the form of, for example, subsidies or tax concessions. Polish brown coal mining has all the attributes necessary for long-term development to ensure the country’s energy security. The document which is a road map for the brown coal industry is the Program for the Brown Coal Mining Sector in Poland adopted by the Council of Ministers on May 30, 2018. The Program covers the years 2018–2030 with a perspective up to 2050 and presents the development directions of the brown coal mining sector in Poland together with the objectives and actions necessary to achieve them. The Program presents a strategy for the development of brown coal mining in Poland in the first half of the 21st century. Possible scenarios have developed in active mining and energy basins as well as in new regions with significant resources of this mineral. This is to enable the most efficient use of deposits in the Złoczew and Konin regions as well as the Gubin and Legnica brown coal basins, and then deposits located in the Rawicz region (Oczkowice) as well as other prospective areas that may eventually replace the existing active mining and energy areas. This will allow power plants to continue to produce inexpensive and clean electricity, using the latest global solutions in the field of clean coal technologies.
The paper looks at the issues of operation safety of the national power grid and the characteristics of the national power grid in the areas of transmission and distribution. The issues of operation safety of the national transmission and distribution grid were discussed as well as threats to operation safety and security of the electricity supply related to these grids. Failures in the transmission and distribution grid in 2017, caused by extreme weather conditions such as: a violent storm at the night of 11/12.08.2017, hurricane Ksawery on 5–8.10.2017, and hurricane Grzegorz on 29–30.10.2017, the effects of which affected tens of thousands of electricity consumers and led to significant interruptions in the supply of electricity were presented. At present, the national power (transmission and distribution) grid does not pose a threat to the operation safety and security of the electricity supply, and is adapted to the current typical conditions of electricity demand and the performance of tasks during a normal state of affairs, but locally may pose threats, especially in extreme weather conditions. A potentially high threat to the operation safety of the national power grid is closely linked to: age, technical condition and the degree of depletion of the transmission and distribution grids, and their high failure rate due to weather anomalies. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and modernize the 400 and 220 kV transmission grids, cross-border interconnections, and the 110 kV distribution grid (especially in the area of large urban agglomerations), and the MV distribution grid (especially in rural areas). The challenges faced by the transmission and distribution grid operators within the scope of investment and operating activities, with a view to avoiding or at least reducing the scale of grid failures in the case of future sudden high-intensity atmospheric phenomena, are presented.
The implementation of micro scale combined heat and power systems is one of the ways to improve the energy security of consumers. In fact, there are many available large and medium scale cogeneration units, which operate according to the Rankine Cycle. Due to European Union demands in the field of using renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency result in the importance of additionally developing systems dedicated for use in residential buildings, farms, schools and other facilities. This paper shows the concept of introducing thermoelectric generators into typical wood stoves: steel plate wood stoves and accumulative wood stoves. Electricity generated in thermoelectric generators (there were studies on both three market available units and a prototypical unit developed by the authors) may be firstly consumed by the system (to power controller, actuators, fans, pumps, etc.). Additional power (if available) may be stored in batteries and then used to power home appliances (light, small electronics and others). It should be noted that commercially available thermoelectric generators are not matched for domestic heating devices – the main problems are connected with an insufficient heat flux transmitted from the stove to the hot side of the generator (caused e.g. by the non -homogeneous temperature distribution of the surface and bad contact between the stove and the generator) and inefficient cooling. To ensure the high efficiency of micro cogeneration systems, developing a dedicated construction both of the generator and the heat source is necessary.
The article presents the question of solidarity in relation to the energy policy of the European Union. This topic seems particularly important in the context of the crisis of the European integration process, which includes, in particular, economic problems, the migration crisis and the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit). The issue of solidarity was analyzed from the legal and formal, institutional, and functional and relational points of view. The aim of the article is to show to what extent the theoretical assumptions, resulting from the provisions of European law on the solidarity, correspond with the actions of the Member States in the energy sector. The practice of the integration process indicates that the particular national economic interests in the energy sector are more important for the Member States than working towards European solidarity. Meanwhile, without a sense of responsibility for the pan-European interest, it is not possible to effectively implement the EU’s energy policy. The European Commission – as the guardian of the treaties – confronts the Member States with ambitious challenges to be undertaken “in the spirit of solidarity”. In the verbal sphere, this is supported by by capitals of the individual countries, but in practice, the actions taken divide the Member States into opposing camps instead of building a sense of the European energy community. This applies in particular to such issues as: the management of the energy union, investments in the gas sector (e.g. Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II), and the position towards third countries – suppliers of energy raw materials to the EU (in particular towards the Russian Federation). Different views on the above problems make it extremely difficult for Member States to take action “in the spirit of energy solidarity”. Thus, the energy problem becomes another reason for the weakening of European unity.
Due to unfavorable factors, dangerous conditions occurred in the delivery of electric energy in Poland. This was the most serious incident of its kind since the 1980’s. Such a serious incident raised concern about the safety of the electric power system in the summer and led to the formulation of conclusions for the future. In this article, the author analyses the conditions, which caused that situation. Poland was experiencing a doubt in August 2015, which along with an extremely high maximum daily temperature created remarkably unfavorable conditions for power plants and decreased the capacity of overhead power lines. Such unfavorable metrological conditions occurred not only in Poland, but also in Central-Eastern and Western Europe. It is worth emphasizing that the safety of electric energy delivery was endangered only in Poland. The improper renovation and upkeep policies, as well as unplanned outages in power plants caused a significant decrease of available power in the National Electric Power System. Unscheduled flows between Germany and Poland ruled out the possibility of importing electric energy at such a critical time. The author presents the correlation between the maximum daily air temperature in the sweltering heat and an increase in the demand for electric energy. Overall, unfavorable conditions posed a threat in the delivery of electric energy in Poland. In this article, the author draws attention to the report from the Supreme Audit Office (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli – NIK) from 2014, which predicted such a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, that report remained unnoticed. The author formulated appropriate solutions in order to increase the safety of electric energy delivery in the summer and to prevent such occurrences in the future.
A lot of interest has recently been put into the so-called ‘virtual cryptographic currencies’, commonly known as cryptocurrencies, along with its surrounding market. The blockchain technology that stands behind them is also becoming increasingly popular. From the perspective of maintaining energy security, an important issue is the process of mining individual cryptocurrencies, which is associated with very high energy consumption. This operation is usually related to the approval of new blocks in the blockchain network and attaching them to the chain. This process is carried out through performing complex mathematical operations by various devices, which in turn require high power and respectively consume a lot of energy. The impact of cryptocurrency miners on the power and energy demand level might gradually increase over time, therefore this issue shouldn’t be ignored. Comparing the above information in parallel with the growing need for providing demand side response (DSR) services in the Polish Power System, raises the question whether devices used for mining cryptocurrencies can be used for the purpose of balancing the power system. This paper presents an analysis of the possibility to provide the demand side response services by groups of cryptocurrency miners users. The analysis was carried out taking basic functional, technological and economical aspects of these devices’ operations into account.
The article compares the management of energy resources in Poland and Ukraine over the period 2000–2017. The analysis took changes in the volume of coal, oil and natural gas resources into consideration. The indicators of supplies of these fuels for Poland and Ukraine have additionally been compared with selected EU countries. In order to assess energy security of Poland and Ukraine, the changes in the primary energy consumption have been analyzed in general in first order, then the possibilities of meeting the demand for natural gas, coal and oil have been determined based on the domestic extraction of individual energy resources. Such a comparison indicates the dominant role of coal in Poland while the extraction of oil and natural gas meets the domestic demand to a greater extent in Ukraine. Over the period 2000-2017, trends in primary energy consumption were different; a 17% increase was noted in Poland, while a nearly 40% decline was noted in Ukraine. The main factors responsible for radical changes in fuel and energy management in Ukraine have been identified: military operations in the east of the country and the annexation of Crimea, demographic changes. These events had a negative impact especially on the volume of hard coal mining in Ukraine; the significant increase in imports from 5.36 to 19.14 million tons in 2011-2017 was necessary for balancing. The balance of foreign exchange for electricity was also compared. Over the past years, this comparison has been favorable for Ukraine, where the dominance of electricity exports over imports is noticeable, which generated revenues of over USD 200 million in 2017.
The national power industry is based primarily on its own energy mineral resources such as hard and brown coal. Approximately 80% of electrical energy production from these minerals gives us complete energy independence and the cost of its production from coal is the lowest in comparison to other sources. Poland has, for many decades had vast resources of these minerals, the experience of their extraction and processing, the scientific-design facilities and technical factories manufacturing machines and equipment for own needs, as well as for export. Nowadays coal is and should be an important source of electrical energy and heat for the next 25–50 years, because it is one of the most reliable and price acceptable energy sources. This policy may be disturbed over the coming decades due to the depletion of active resources of hard and brown coal. The conditions for new mines development as well as for all coal mining sector development in Poland are very complicated in terms of legislation, environment, economy and image. The authors propose a set of strategic changes in the formal conditions for acquiring mining licenses. The article gives a signal to institutions responsible for national security that without proposed changes implementation in the legal and formal process it, will probably not be possible to build next brown coal, hard coal, zinc and lead ore or other minerals new mines.