In principle I always maintain a positive mind (my research in Positive Psychology helps:-)) so forgive me if I sound somewhat negative about the state of the Polish Electricity sector (Grid and Power Stations). Over at Dat Blog I have been nagging for some time about a) the need for investment in the energy sector (both grid and stations), b) a sensible clean energy bill and c) privatisation of assets.
In January and February Polish electricity reserves was at an absolute minimum level, close to crisis point. At the time the naysayers said a black-out would happen soon, well one such black-out did happen yesterday in the town of Szczecin (population 420,000). Banks closed, shops closed, hospitals on generators and a whole host of other problems brought the area to a gridlock. Of course the industry blamed the weather!!! but come on how bad is the grid? Well it’s pretty bad – single lines that get cut if the wind sneezes, some of our less well off neighboring countries have a better grid infrastructure (admittedly not as old and they learnt from Poland’s mistakes!).
Last week several big wigs in the industry (including President’s of the main PSE Operator, Power Stations, etc) put their names to a report available here in Polish (PDF). The report indicates heightened concern over a potential blackout in the summer months caused by the aforementioned poor investments, Emission cuts, etc. etc. A blackout in the Summer months is likely because the characteristics of Poland’s energy use have changed, whilst we experienced a relatively mild winter, yet came close to a blackout, the summer months are likely to see increased use of air-conditioning caused by the growth of new office facilities, change in weather pattern, growth in new homes with AC, etc.
The Government is starting to listen and last week indicated a willingness to pursue a Nuclear Energy Station strategy with a potential time line for being operational in 12 years!! by which time Poland’s expected energy needs will be double the current production capacity.
What’s the answer? a) simply put – the reserves need to be built now (the capacity is there), b) consumers (includes businesses) need an awareness campaign by the government on conserving usage c) a high level plan needs to be put in place to improve the grid infrastructure across the country and d) accelerate the privatisation to provide the industry with essential funds for updating power stations.
I am optimistic, the major cities will not lose power but the poor buggers in the small towns and villages, slightly off the grid, will be heating their stew on gas stoves and reading by candlelight, doing their bit for green conservation….