PKP Energetyka signs partnership under Europe's Rail Joint Undertaking for green energy

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PKP Energetyka, the cross-country electricity distributor to the Polish railway network, has signed a partnership agreement under Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking to increase the amount of renewable energy used in the Polish railway ecosystem.

According to PKP, the value of the projects to be carried out, which will take place between 2023 and 2026, is almost €3.4m. In the long-term – until 2031 – an additional €5.6m will be spent.

Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking supports rail research and innovation to make the EU rail network more integrated, sustainable, and reliable.

The news follows PKP Energetyka’s announcement that its network of photovoltaic installations is “the largest in the railway industry and one of the largest in Poland”. In total, 11,000m2 of panels operate at the company’s 360 substations, which enables the production of almost 2GWh of clean energy per year. As a result, the company can reduce its carbon footprint by more than 1,500 tons of CO2 per year.

PKP Energetyka built “several hundred” photovoltaic installations in just over 18 months, increasing the number of green substations from 15 to 360, which is more than 70% of all traction substations supplying the Polish railways.

The long-term strategy of PKP Energetyka assumes that by 2030 the company will reduce its carbon footprint by 85% and become climate-neutral in terms of direct and indirect emissions.

As part of the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking partnership agreement, PKP Energetyka will work on increasing the possibility of connecting renewable energy sources and supplying the railway with green energy directly. In addition, the agreement aims to use warehouses to enable the development of hubs next to the railway that will benefit from green energy and the opportunities offered by the railway.

The partnership agreement will be funded by the European Commission through Horizon Europe. This guarantees the possibility of carrying out research and development works, under which the total level of eligible costs is almost €20.1m. These funds will be successively released in three competitions carried out in the years 2022-2031. PKP Energetyka will receive funding of up to 44.5% of the project amount for its projects worth €9m.

PKP Energetyka will work on the verification of an energy storage model based on the idea of ​​local cooperation between consumers and producers; building assumptions and participation in creating algorithms for the model; and launching demonstrators working in the distribution network of PKP Energetyka. The overall aim of the project is to increase the generation capacity of renewable energy sources (RES) and improve the efficiency of local energy use.

“One of the planned demonstrators is to confirm the possibility of increasing the connection capacity for RES sources in the distribution network of PKP Energetyka with the use of energy storage facilities,” said Piotr Obrycki, director of the Research and Development Office at PKP Energetyka. “The second is to verify the possibility of cooperation of energy storage with other elements of the power supply system based on an “energy hub”, reducing network losses and increasing the energy efficiency of the process of electricity generation, distribution, and consumption.

“Together with the energy storage facility in Garbce, which has been operating for two years, the next storage facilities will form the basis for the construction of about 300 profiled and adapted such ecosystems in Poland,” Obrycki added.

These tasks will be carried out in cooperation with domestic partners: Poznań University of Technology, the Railway Institute and the EMAG Institute of Innovative Technologies, with ongoing cooperation also with foreign partners.

All stakeholders involved in the project emphasized that tasks supporting ecology, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, circular economy and improvement of energy efficiency related to increasing the use of RES to power railway traction and buildings, are particularly important. The work currently underway also assumes the development of standards for the interface of hydrogen refueling by rail vehicles and ensuring the safety of this process.