The energy transformation is gaining momentum, and the “green revolution” is becoming a fact. 2020 was a significant year for renewable energy sources. The European Union saw 38% electricity generation from renewable energy sources, a rate that was significantly higher than that of fossil fuels (37%), or nuclear energy (25%). Key facilities on the global energy map were built in Poland and Ukraine. This is only the beginning. The future plans for Eastern Europe’s energy ambitions are not yet realized.
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 intersect with old, inefficient power stations. We must act quickly because the rise in energy prices is especially noticeable. Renewable energy at affordable prices will be more important than ever.
An engine for change
Between 2010-2019, electricity generation from renewable energies (RES) in the central EU member states grew slower than in Western Europe (4% against 6% average annual increase). The growth of RES in final electricity consumption was also slower (+8 vs. +17 percentage point). In the past, solar power and wind power were the main drivers of industry growth. The pace of change is not optimal. The current decade will see economies racing to improve the growth dynamics of electricity production from RES. The development of RES technologies can be seen as a potential to improve the welfare of citizens as well as real economic and business opportunity.
The race to the top of economies begins
Eastern European countries have a strong difference in the amount of RES they use in total electricity production. This includes a record 65% in Romania, Latvia, or Croatia, which heavily rely upon hydropower. The industry is also growing at different rates. However the clear leaders are Lithuania and Ukraine which rely heavily upon wind energy to develop their industries. On the continent-wide scale, the average increase in green electricity production was 40% between 2010 and 2019. Apart from RES investments it is important to note that a large portion of energy projects in coming years will be focused on energy efficiency, energy transformation, or modernization in conventional energy. All of this is to help the Old Continent meet the ambitious climate goals at the European Community level.Increasing the proportion of green energy in the mix for electric and thermal energy consumption to at least 32% (compared to the target of 20%). This includes increasing the percentage of green energy in electricity, heat and transport to at least 32% by 2030 (compared with a 2020 target of 20%) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 55% by 2030.
Eastern European investors must find partners with extensive experience in large-scale, complex energy projects. This is especially true for those who are facing legal, technological, and commercial requirements. Recent achievements can make RES market leaders. Polish company Electrum is behind the most important ones. It has the best practices in the implementation and management of complex engineering and business energy objects. We are a pioneer in the Polish wind and photovoltaic energy markets. This is not only because of our humility but also because we have confidence in our abilities. “Spectacular investments in Eastern Europe are the reason to be proud of us”, says Mirosław Popławski, Electrum’s CEO.
Realizations at the highest levels
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 is the Managing Director at Eurocape. He summarizes the project as: Zaporizhia Wind Park was a project that involved the underground installation of 35 kV cables and the negotiation with farmers who used the land. Potęgowo, in turn, is the largest such investment on the Polish onshore wind energy market. It is important to note that all these projects were completed in compliance with the highest standards, using 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 can be 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. These large infrastructure projects are not to be overlooked. 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”. There are many large-scale projects in Eastern Europe. As Mirosław Popławski emphasizes: “Big projects and big steps – they will be the domain of Eastern European power industry in the next decade. Contractors should have the experience of previous projects and a team that has risen to the highest challenges. 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.
Success is only possible with proprietary systems
One thing is a well-rounded team. Modern technology and high standards are key to success. 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 well-received? The Eastern European market lacks entities that offer comprehensive preventive and repair services for the renewable energy infrastructure. There is a growing interest in proprietary systems to manage asset management. These systems can be used to help with solution selection and implementation, as well consulting in the analysis, interpretation of data, and advisory in energy asset decisions. 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 just new objects
Not only should investments be made in new infrastructure, but also many projects in the areas of reactive power storage, life science projects, decentralized power grids and life science projects are worthy of special attention. These projects are set to revolutionize the power sector by ensuring energy availability and security during periods of low renewable energy installation activity. The entire project is managed from planning and consulting, through design, engineering and implementation, and then service and operation. This is especially important given current pandemic needs.
Winds of change
2020 was a landmark year in Europe’s history from the standpoint of renewable energy sources. This energy source was able to produce a higher percentage of electricity than fossil fuels, for the first-ever time. The European Union’s electricity generation rate was 38% for renewable energy sources, 37% for fossil fuels and 25% for nuclear energy. This is a positive trend and a good sign to 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”.