Poland inaugurates energy storage facility for rail

energy storage facility PKP Energetyka has inaugurated the Europe’s largest traction energy storage facility which will secure Poland’s rail energy supply.

The project was implemented by the consortium of My-Soft and Impact Clean Power Technology as well as Elester-PKP and the University of Zielona Góra. PLN 20 million (EUR 4.4 million) was the investment of which PLN 8.8 million (EUR 1.94 million) was the European co-financing.

The facility will serve its purpose for the next 15 years and will also be a benchmark for the development of such facitlities across Poland.  This is the first of about 300 “power banks” planned for the railways in Poland. Each will be part of a broader power ecosystem that also includes a traction substation and eventually a photovoltaic for other renewable energy sources, creating a Local Balancing Area. The storage facility is fully metered and automated, which allows for remote control and configuration of selected need-based parameters.

“The facilities under construction are modern and digitized in the 4.0 formula. This means that we apply Business Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems, which guarantees that e.g. the energy storage facility opened today will perform its stabilization and efficiency functions even better,” Marek Kleszczewski, Member of the PKP Energetyka Management Board said.

The energy reservoir, which was built in Garbce, 50 km from Wrocław, can single power a train traveling at a speed of 160 km/h. This is made possible by four battery containers with a total of 4,240 modern lithium-ion cells.

“During three years of intensive work, we created a solution from scratch that is unique in Europe, despite the pandemic. It takes into account the specificity of the Polish railways and the national power supply system by defining the optimal values of power and capacity.  This was possible, among other things, through developing a control algorithm and a selection of energy storage facility parameters,” Professor Grzegorz Benysek, project research, and development manager said.

The energy storage facility will strengthen the security and quality of energy supply to the railways, balance the power drawn from the Polish National Power System, and allow for more efficient use of renewable energy sources under the Green Rail Programme.

The plant in Garbce, with a capacity of 5.5 MW and a usable capacity of 1.2 MWh, is the largest energy storage facility working for traction purposes in Europe. The four containers use lithium-ion batteries made with NMC technology which takes into account the nature of rail power, allowing the storage facility to charge slowly and release stored energy quickly when a train passes.

The facility is capable of powering even the fastest trains, including Pendolino, within few seconds. At the heart of the storage facility is a DC/DC power converter that operates directly on DC/DC voltage, an innovative solution on a European scale. In the case of other DC-powered rail systems, traction storage facilities yield AC output, forcing additional DC/AC/DC conversion. Bypassing this transformation significantly improves storage facility operations and results in energy savings that are not lost in the transition stages.

In the next 10 tears, PKP Energetyka estimates that the capacity of the rail system will increase by as much as 42% – up to 6.8 GW.    

“Energy storage technology has dual benefits: it stabilizes the power system (by increasing the volume of distributed energy without the need to increase connection capacity) and allows for the transformation of railways to RES powering. As part of the Green Rail Program, we need to ensure the stability of the energy supply even when it is cloudy or windless,” Leszek Hołda, Member of the PKP Energetyka Management Board said.

Due to its location, in Lower Silesia, the storage facility benefits great rail connections as the region is one of the most dynamically developing regional railways. Koleje Dolnośląskie, which is owned by the office, is increasing the number of connections and investing in modern rolling stock, including hybrid vehicles. The region is also quite important when it comes to the technicality and innovation of rail in our country. 10 km from Garbce, in the same commune of Żmigród, there is a specialized test track belonging to the Railway Institute, where newly constructed railway vehicles are tested.

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