We turn off the electricity to charge. Here’s what the Polish network looks like (and what needs to change)

MATEUSZ LUBCZAŃSKI • 2 days ago • 4 comments

This winter, the country’s energy balance was tight and the situation will become even more complicated. The number of unloaded and loaded cars is increasing on the roads. Is it possible to “increase the power” and will our non-modern infrastructure withstand it?

Do you have an exit in the garage?  Excellent - but filling the car without a wall box will take forever

Do you have an exit in the garage? Excellent – but filling the car without a wall box will take forever (photo by Philip Buliński)

We are a little out of the popular million electric cars (according to the Prime Minister, within three years), but the market for electric and electrified cars (for example, plug-in hybrids) is growing rapidly. In February, there were about 20,000 people on Polish roads. electricians and the same number of hybrids with the possibility of charging from an external source. But this current in the batteries does not come from the air – it must be created and sent. Is it possible in Poland?

“Green” electricity

For an electric drive to be truly “eco”, electricity must be produced without releasing carbon dioxide or other harmful particles. While the development of “green” energy sources is enjoyable, there is still a long way to go – in January 2022, coal still dominated the energy sector. It is a little more than 46 percent. energy. Lignite was second on the podium with about 24 percent. electricity generation. Wind turbines account for more than 18 percent. extraction, then comes gas and hydropower. However, evolution is inevitable, as shown in the following table, which presents energy sources in Poland since the 1960s:

Power growth dynamics installed in PPS in 1960 ÷ 2021.

So how much electricity do you need?

I understood two hypothetical scenarios – Medium, medium town and large city with chargers. In the first case, about 20 thousand. Vehicles filled with 11 kW wall chargers are, secondly, a purely “network stress test” – a round, “government” connected to a million-speed (albeit already on paper) chargers.

– Demand for 20 thousand power. Maciej Wapiński from Polskie Sieci Energetyczne reports that the 11 kW electric cars have a capacity of about 220 MW. – This is about a third of the capacity of the new 600 MW class gas plant. For comparison The winter peak demand in the national power system is about 26 GW (26,000 MW). – adds.

– Of course, such an increase in demand would be significant. However, from the Transmission System Operator’s point of view, this will not be a problem, especially since charging will occur in the evening or at night, ie. off-peak demand – Wapinski summarizes.

As you can read in the report “Sharing Networks and Electric Mobility” prepared by Forum Energii, “the greatest demand for charging at home is observed in the evening – after 5 pm, ie after returning from work. the peak of filling falls in the early hours of the evening (about 20:00) “.

Some plug-in hybrids draw a maximum of 3 kW

What will happen if we close more cars for more powerful chargers? In the case of filling 100 thousand. Cars with 50 kW chargers (for example, Greenway points) we meet the demand of up to 5 GW.

– This is a significant amount that can be compared with the power already obtained by the entire Bełchatów Power Plant (currently the largest power plant in Poland). Meeting such an additional requirement will no doubt be required construction of new generation sources. However, it should be noted that at this level, the energy demand generated by electric car chargers will not arise suddenly. The process of meeting such demand will spread over many years, which will allow for the phased construction of the required additional generation capacity, informing the PSE representative and drawing attention to other aspects.

Electricity consumption in Poland will look like this

There is energy, but it still needs to be delivered

– It should be noted that the above answers are the point of view of the Transmission System Operator with the highest voltage, ie 400 and 220 kV networks. These networks are designed to transmit large amounts of electricity over long distances. However, the intensive development of the electric car market can create local problems in low-voltage networks, my interlocutor said.

Exactly – low voltages, ie electricity used to power an iron or a washing machine. In this case, we are talking about five operators who divide Poland. These are Energa, ENEA, Tauron, Innogy and PGE. Each of them has a different region, and therefore has different problems – mainly the modernization of the network.

According to the information provided by the Supreme Audit Office in 2017, The Polish network is old, low-density and not wired enough (that is, we have overhead lines, not underground power). For 1 min. km2 There are 41 km of electricity networks in Poland. It is 100 km in Germany and 161 km in Switzerland.

It is easiest to think of the network as a road. First, the current passes through the highest voltage networks (say, the highway), then through the transformer stations to high, medium and low voltage networks (in turn: the national road, the main road and finally the access road). .

They are marked in red

According to 90 percent of the Supreme Audit Office, the service life of high-voltage power lines is more than 10 years (43 percent of them) More than 40 years). The youngest were low-voltage lines, but still 32 percent over 40 years old. More than half of the stations and switching stations were built 30 years ago.

Not the biggest threat to the power grid

So you have to invest – in 2019, Enea spent 900 million PLN on network modernization, Energa – more than 1.3 billion PLN, Stoen (Innogy) – 230 million and PGE – 2.2 billion PLN. Distribution network operators say that cables need to be replaced with those with higher capacity, the same is true for transformers. The biggest problem is the installation of charging stations along the routes, where electricity consumption is low today. This again means expanding the transformer stations and increasing the capacity of the Main Supply Stations.

– Development of electric networks will have to keep pace with the development of electromobility, renewable energy and electrification of heating. The Charter for Effective Transformation of Polish Energy Industry Distribution Networks is currently being worked out, including ERO (Energy Regulatory Authority) and distribution network operators should help plan the development of the network according to energy transformation needs, said Tobiasz Adamczewski of the Forum Energy Foundation.

The charter consists of diagnosing upcoming network problems, identifying tools and required legislative changes. It is being developed from November 2021. – The funds needed to make the necessary investments in the energy sector are large, – said Deputy Minister Piotr Dziadzio at a meeting on this issue in March.

But it is not the electric mobility that causes the change – This title refers to the growing power of renewable energy sources. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2021, the number of micro-installations has increased by 1 time. 1475 percent In total, at the end of 2021, their number was almost 854,000, and their capacity is 6 GWh – according to the Polish Electricity Transmission and Distribution Society. In 2021 alone, more than 396,000 people joined. microinstallations.

Unfortunately, there are problems here. Multiple installations within one MV / LV station (medium voltage / low voltage), low demand for electricity during peak insulation or even failure to inform the operator of its hypothesis is a major cause of failure. Simply put, the network is not designed to receive energy from it, but to deliver it to consumers. And this current must be collected somewhere and not sent to the world.

A car like a giant powerbank

The solution to this problem is car-to-network (V2G) technology. Then the car connected to the network can not only receive energy, but also return it to it later. A car in practice It is becoming a giant power bank with a capacity of 40, 60 and even more than 100 kW.

When you compare the prices of energy storage with an electric car, the latter’s batteries are cheaper. (on an individual basis). However, there are no simple standards and solutions for bilateral power transmission – said Carol Lukasik, spokesperson for PGE Dystrybucja SA.

– You can also imagine a company a large electric car park used an average of 12 hours a day. The remaining time connected to the network can be a memory backup for the system. It is an additional income for the owner, and for the system it is a service of flexibility – Łukasik adds.

However, the precondition is to evolve into a smart network that automatically responds to customer behavior. For this, for example, you need smart meters. In Poland, they cover less than 10 percent. is a market and is mainly unevenly distributed in the north of the country. According to the Polish Energy Policy project, by 2040, 80 percent of consumers will have such meters in their homes. Unfortunately, this is just a design and a dream. The automotive industry is not yet a threat to the power grid, but it will force it to undergo an expensive, complex and time-consuming evolution.

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