Massive power outage at Poland’s main power plant reveals major weakness in country’s energy system

On Monday, Poland lost 20% of its needed electric energy in just a few seconds. If not for imported energy from other countries, lights could have gone out in 11 million homes

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Krzysztof Janoś

A serious outage in the Belchatów power plant took place on Monday afternoon which saw 10 out of 11 units in Poland’s largest power plant cease to work. The plant produces 20 percent of Poland’s energy and reaches 11.5 million homes.

The outage was not caused by the failure of the power station but of the one of the distribution stations. Only the 11th unit continued working because it was connected to a different station.

This incident once again shows that the network is the Achilles’ heel of the entire energy system, which is on the precipice of the green revolution which will be even more demanding for the system.

Although the situation was stabilized on Tuesday and six units returned to work, it does not change the fact that Poland lost 3,900 megawatts of energy in mere seconds, which accounts for about 20 percent of the whole country’s demand.

The outage represents an unprecedented situation.

“I do not remember there being such an event in the last decade which led to so much power disappearing from the system. On the one hand, it’s a success that we dealt with such a drop and avoided a black-out, unlike a few years ago when the Ostroleka plant stopped working and half of the Mazowsze region lost power. We owe this success mainly to the import from our neighbors and partially to our own resources from pumped-storage power stations,” expert Bartłomiej Derski of portal Wysokienapiecie.pl emphasized.

He underlined that if not for the connection to the European energy system, the situation would have been disastrous. Fortunately, Poland was able to take over energy from foreign resources within fractions of seconds.

The outage in the power station in Belchatów was felt as far as in Algeria

Derski pointed out on Twitter that energy operators in other countries also felt the outage in Belchatów.

“The outage in the power station in Belchatów was felt as far as in Algeria. The frequency of the system’s work dropped there as well as in all of Europe and Turkey due to it all being one interconnected area to varying degrees. Because Poland is part of this massive system, it was saved from a blackout.”

Janusz Steinhoff, former minister of economy and expert in the energy market, believes that the outage in Belchatów is a warning signal for Polish energy.

“I’ve been saying for years that we must invest more in transmission and distribution networks. These works have accelerated recently, but we cannot rest on laurels. Our entire energy system requires a deep reconstruction and this tempo must be dynamic. There is no time to waste because this is the greatest challenge for our economy. Polish companies will pay for delays in modernization by losing competitiveness on global markets and individual Polish customers will pay for it through higher bills,” he said.


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