December 04, 2012

Country Module “Poland & Ukraine” at MSc Renewable Energy in CEE

MSc students in front of the 460 MW turbine & generator of Legnica CFB-Plant

From November 15th to 17th, 2012 the students from the MSc Program „Renewable Energy in Central & Eastern Europe”, class 2012-2014, had the opportunity to travel to Krakow to their first country module. This seminar offered an in-depth look on the (renewable) energy situation in the two Central-Eastern European countries, namely Poland and the Ukraine. The seminar was hosted by Professor Adam Gula from Krakow’s AGH University of Science and Technology. AGH is one of Poland’s leading technical Universities.

During the first day professors Artur Wyrwa and Adam Gula, both from AGH, lectured on the (renewable) energy situation in Poland. Students learned how heavily dependent the country is on domestic coal. Renewable sources of energy are underrepresented, although there is a reasonable potential for wind power and biomass. Professor Gula was very much against co-firing biomass together with coal in conventional large scale power plants, because it causes many logistical, technical and environmental problems. Instead, he thinks biomass should be used locally in small furnaces for heat production in villages and on farms.

The next day, we were taken on an excursion to a large scale coal power plant in Legnica (in fact it was the most advanced and still the largest fluidized bed boiler in the world). We were welcomed by a friendly guide who showed and explained the technology to us and who also reflected on co-firing of biomass. He hoped this would never happen in his plant, because of increased fire and chlorine corrosion risks.

After Legnica we also had the chance to explore a hard coal mine in Zabrze. We went 360 meters below ground to the very source of our CO2 problems. It was a strange feeling down there – especially after learning about past and present working conditions. One has to have respect for the many miners who lost their lives or health down there in order to fuel the ever increasing energy hunger of our industrial societies. How harmless wind power or PV is in comparison!
On the third day professor Georgyi Gelethuka vom the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and also director of the Ukrainian Biomass Association and Dr. Olena Rybak, director of the European-Ukrainian Energy Agency talked to us about the (renewable) energy situation in the Ukraine. The country is not as dependent on coal as Poland as it also relies heavily on nuclear power, natural gas and to some extend large hydro power. Wind, photovoltaics or biomass could play an important role in the future if only fossil and nuclear energy were not as heavily subsidized as they are at present.

All things considered, the students could gain a good understanding of the (renewable) energy situation in Poland and the Ukraine. They also got some ideas now how to go about investing in renewable energy projects in these countries. We were inspired by the many renewable energy potentials waiting to be developed in these two countries.


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