Poland’s second biggest power generator is moving ahead with a 5 MW solar project in Jaworzno, near Katowice.
State-owned power company Tauron is working on the plant under its Green Return program despite the effects of the Covid-19 public health crisis on project development and financing.
A statement by Tauron said the Provincial Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (WFOŚiGW) in Katowice is co-financing the solar project, which will be built on a former coal power station site. The Tauron Wytwarzanie division has signed a contract for a preferential PLN3 million ($717,000) loan from WFOŚiGW Katowice which offers the coal company the opportunity of repaying the funds early on the understanding any money saved on loan interest be reinvested into further green projects.
Tauron tendered the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Jaworzno project in September and its own Tauron Serwis and Tauron Dystrybucja Serwis units secured the deal for a power plant expected to be operational this year.
“We are consistently implementing Tauron’s Green Return assumptions, despite the problems associated with the coronavirus pandemic,” said Filip Grzegorczyk, president of Tauron Polska Energia. “The photovoltaic farm in Jaworzno is part of a broader photovoltaic development program in post-industrial areas belonging to the group.”
Tauron said it wants to develop solar and wind projects at former coal sites, such as the thermal power plant at Jaworzno. The power company is planning 75-150 MW of solar capacity at five locations, including in Mysłowice, also near Katowice, and at Stalowa Wola, in southeastern Poland. The company said those areas need reclamation as they previously hosted power plants or furnace waste landfills.
The energy company, which wants to commission 300 MW of solar and 900 MW of wind project capacity over the next five years, has a 5.1 GW generation portfolio.
Tauron is among the Polish coal entities beginning to embrace renewables. State-owned utility Polska Grupa Energetyczna has signed a deal with copper miner KGHM to develop 500 MW of solar at one of its mining sites and electricity provider Zespół Elektrowni Pątnów-Adamów-Konin SA said it would deploy a large scale PV plant at a depleted area of the extensive Adamów brown coal mine in Turek county.
Poland depends on coal for 80% of its electricity but rapidly rising electricity tariffs have forced the government to freeze customer energy bills.
Clean energy group the Instytut Energetyki Odnawialnej (IEO) has predicted sticking to coal and nuclear power will mean electricity tariffs could rise another 30% by 2030 – and a whopping 60% by 2050. Switching to renewables, according to the IEO, could see power prices increase by just 1.5-2%.
A report issued by the EU’s Joint Research Center (JRC) in January estimated the bloc’s ‘coal regions in transition’ boast more than 730 GW of solar potential, which could generate 874.3 TWh of clean energy. The generation capacity of hard coal and lignite power plants in the EU was 152.5 GW in February last year. The deployment of renewables in EU coal regions could create up to 315,000 jobs by 2030, and up to 460,000 by 2050, according to the JRC report.