The energy transformation is gaining momentum, and the “green revolution” is becoming a fact. For Europe, 2020 represented a historic year for renewable energy sources. In the European Union, the rate of electricity generation from renewable energy sources amounted to 38%, ahead of fossil fuels (37%), and nuclear energy (25%). In Poland and Ukraine, key facilities on the energy map of the world were put into operation. And this is only the beginning. Plans for the coming years show that the energy ambitions of Eastern Europe are still untapped.
Big projects and big steps – these will be the domain of Eastern European energy in the next decade. This is where the Green New Deal guidelines meet old and inefficient power plants. This is where we must act fast because the increase in energy prices is particularly noticeable and renewable energy at affordable prices is needed more than ever.
An engine for change
Between 2010 and 2019, electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RES) in the 11 central EU member states grew at a slower rate than in Western Europe (4% vs. 6% average annual growth). Consequently, the growth of the RES share in final electricity consumption was also much weaker (+8 vs. +17 percentage points). The main drivers of growth in the industry in previous years were wind and solar power. However, the pace of change is still not optimal and the current decade will mark a race for economies to improve growth dynamics of electricity production from RES. The development of RES technologies is seen not only as a possibility to improve widely understood welfare of citizens, but also as real economic and business opportunities.
The race of economies begins
Eastern European countries differ strongly in their current share of RES in total electricity production (with a record 65% share in Romania, Latvia, and Croatia, which rely heavily on hydropower). The industry is also developing at different rates, but the clear leaders are Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine, which base their development to a large extent on wind energy. On the scale of the whole continent, the average growth of green electricity production from 2010-2019 amounted to 40%. What is important, apart from RES investments, is that a significant part of energy projects in the coming years will focus on solutions improving energy efficiency, energy transformation or modernization in the field of conventional energy. All this is to bring the Old Continent closer to meeting the ambitious climate goals set at the European Community level, e.g.: increasing the share of green energy in the mix of electric and thermal energy consumption, as well as in transport, to at least 32% by 2030 (compared to the goal of 20%). This includes increasing the share of green energy in the electricity, heat, and transport mix to at least 32% by 2030 (compared to a 20% target for 2020) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
It is particularly important for investors in Eastern Europe, in the face of legal, technological, and business requirements, to find partners with experience in complex large-scale energy projects. Recent spectacular realizations can distinguish leaders in the RES market. Behind the realization of the most significant ones stands Polish company Electrum, which shows the best practices in the implementation of difficult engineering and business energy objects. With humility, but also with confidence in our skills, we position ourselves as a pioneer in the Polish photovoltaic and wind energy markets. “Spectacular investments in Eastern Europe are the reason to be proud of us”, says Mirosław Popławski, Electrum’s CEO.
Realizations on the highest level
The recently completed investments by Electrum: Wind Farm is in Ukraine with current power of 98 MW, which provides clean and cheap energy to almost 90,000 and after completion to more than 200,000 households and Wind Farm Potęgowo located in Poland, consisting of 81 onshore turbines with total power of 220 MW, are clear evidence that in order to meet the targets imposed by the European Union, Eastern European countries are already significantly intensifying their activities. The Zaporozhia wind farm is one of the largest wind farms in Europe, behind only the Fântânele-Cogealac Wind Farm located in Romania. Mykhaylo Chulkov, Managing Director of Eurocape, sums up the project as follows: Zaporizhia Wind Park is a project that involved laying 35 kV cables underground and negotiating with the farmers who also used the land. Potęgowo, in turn, is the largest such investment on the Polish onshore wind energy market. What is important is that all of these projects have been carried out in accordance with the highest standards and with environmentally and socially friendly solutions. As the Electrum’s CEO adds, “maintaining standards of social and ethical business responsibility is a priority for our projects. Aware of both the positive and negative impact of our activity, we include social and environmental aspects in our everyday choices and decisions, in all areas of our activities”.
Not all projects are created equal
The construction of Dębsk Wind Farm by Electrum, which is the largest Polenergia wind farm, and one of the largest in Poland, also deserves special attention. As Marek Marzec, Renewable Energy Projects Development Director at Polenergia S.A., the investor of Dębsk Wind Farm, points out: “wind power plants themselves are only a part of large investments, which are each time very complex and demanding in terms of legal, financial, logistic and implementation aspects. We must not forget about the huge infrastructure accompanying such projects. These are underground control and power cables – including Europe’s longest high-voltage cable line in alternating current technology. It also includes numerous access roads to the individual turbines, service and assembly yards, and the Main Power Supply Point”. Projects in Eastern Europe are currently enormous undertakings. As Mirosław Popławski emphasizes: “Big projects and big steps – they will be the domain of Eastern European power industry in the next decade. That is why experience gained in similar projects and a team which has proven itself in the biggest challenges is so important for contractors. This is specific to the East European market terms of legal or financial issues”. This was also the case with the Dębsk Wind Farm project.
Proprietary systems are the key to success
An experienced team is one thing. The key to success is also modern technology and standards. Electrum can boast of such innovative projects, like the execution and implementation of our proprietary SCADA system – EMACS – for the 33.5 MWp Bolohyvsky Solar Park in Ukraine. Why are our systems so popular? In the Eastern European market there is still a lack of entities providing comprehensive preventive and repair services for renewable energy infrastructure. Growing interest in proprietary systems for asset management shows how much the market needs support, starting with solution selection and implementation and ending with assistance in analysis, data interpretation and advisory in decisions concerning energy assets. As emphasized by Karol Łapiński, Technical Director at Electrum Solutions: “Electrum’s proprietary system, EMACS, combines the advantages of a classical SCADA system, Internet of Things platform and microgrid modeling system with Business Intelligence software. Huge interest in the market proves that realizations with its use will be one of the development priorities in the coming years”.
Not only new objects
In addition to investments in new energy infrastructure, numerous projects in the area of decentralized power grids, life science projects, and reactive power storage deserve special attention. The latter are about to revolutionize the power sector, largely contributing to the security of energy supply and ensuring energy availability during periods of reduced activity of renewable energy installations. Projects are carried out comprehensively, from consulting and project development, through design, engineering, and implementation, to service and operation, which becomes particularly important in the face of current pandemic requirements.
Wind of change
The year 2020 was historic for Europe from the perspective of renewable energy sources. For the first time, this energy source accounted for a larger share of production than fossil fuels. In the entire European Union, the rate of electricity generation from renewable energy sources was 38%, from fossil fuels 37%, and from nuclear energy 25%. This is a good trend and a good sign for the RES industry. As Mirosław Popławski from Electrum emphasizes: “The future of RES belongs to dispersed solutions – intelligent agglomerations with island power supply, private distribution networks or green hydrogen for the needs of clean transport – all this is becoming the present, allowing for the realization of the idea of sustainable development. A sustainable future, according to Electrum’s philosophy, is one in which nature, business, ethics, and technology coexist in an energetic symbiosis.” Such a clear vision, supported by success stories, embedded in business and legal context, is a guarantee that Electrum’s next investments will soon be in the limelight.
We won’t stop the green revolution
The “green revolution” has been underway for a long time and there is no turning back from it. As Mirosław Popławski emphasizes: “It is for our present and future business partners that we want to be the leader of energy transformation in Eastern Europe. The most important thing for us is the trust and satisfaction of our business partners, who will perceive us as a partner with extensive experience, know-how, as well as technical and financial background, which is critical for the success of a project in Poland or Ukraine, where until recently the participation of banks and financial institutions in green projects was marginal”. Asked about the challenges, he replies that: “Challenges are always there, and our recommendations from high scale projects show that our team can turn into a team for special tasks”.