Investments in renewable energy sources along the tracks will cost PLN 6-10 billion. The first solar farms will be built later this year.
PKP Energetyka, together with other railway companies, is preparing for changes in the train supply system, which currently uses electricity produced mainly from coal. Railway companies use only 2% of electricity produced in Poland. However, its purchase has a large share in their costs. The increase in energy prices encourages railways to invest in renewable energy sources (RES).
- We estimate that in 10 years strategy, 85% of traction energy will come from renewable sources - says Leszek Hołda, member of the management board of PKP Energetyka.
Electricity will be produced also on wind farms and solar farms which are going to be built near the tracks and other railway facilities.
Railway companies are also working on hydrogen-powered trains. Czesław Warsewicz, president of PKP Cargo, reminds that the company he manages signed a letter of intent with Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa and FPS Cegielski regarding the development of a hydrogen powered locomotive. On the other hand, Krzysztof Zdziarski, president of Pesa, forecasts that in cooperation with the Orlen Group Bydgoszcz company will manufacture 2-3 hydrogen locomotives in 2021, that will be tested in the Płock plant.
Leszek Hołda claims that hydrogen technologies for railways may develop in the next decade, and then the industry may completely abandon the use of electricity from coal and become fully energy neutral.
- Switching to renewable energy sources will generate investments worth PLN 6-10 billion - estimates Leszek Hołda.
He assumes that such investments will be implemented within 10 years including construction of wind and solar farms, energy storage, etc. Representatives of railway companies emphasize that financing such investments requires development of a government program and support, for example from environmental protection funds, granting preferential loans by banks and public institutions, etc. In securing investments related to energy production and storage long-term contracts with customers are expected to help. Leszek Hołda predicts that carriers will conclude up to ten-year contracts for the supply of electricity. He also claims that the first solar farms may be built later this year. PKP Energetyka is analysing several locations where they could be constructed.
One can be located in Grabce, where the company is also building a lithium-ion energy storage. This project is co-financed by the National Center for Research and Development. The magazine will start operating as early as July this year. PKP Energetyka also plans to build similar warehouses in other places in Poland. Ireneusz Zyska, deputy minister of climate, emphasizes that in the future hydrogen installations can also be used to store energy. Leszek Hołda assumes that in the next stage of the investment, hydrogen storage may also be built.
PKP Energetyka is also eager to build hydrogen supply stations on the Reda-Hel line, which is not electrified. In the future, hydrogen powered trains can travel on it. Railway works are planned not only to invest in energy innovations, but also in devices that help save energy. Marek Chraniuk, president of PKP Intercity informs that the company invests in 380 meters to measure power consumption in trains and check how much power trains can recover in the recuperation process - during braking they can return the generated energy to the network, which will generate savings.
The part of 85 percent of traction energy is expected to come from renewable sources within 10 years.
© ℗ Katarzyna Kapczyńska