On February 2nd, 2021, the Council of Ministers passed a resolution on the strategy of transformation of the Polish energy technology until 2040. It is based on three pillars: fair transformation, construction of a parallel zero-emission energy system, and air of good quality. Implementing these three guidelines will require the Polish government to make massive investments in RES and nuclear power plants. The projected expenditures reach approximately PLN 1.6 trillion. However, that is not all. According to the strategy, already by 2028, as many as 80 percent of households are to have modern remote reading meters at their disposal, the position of prosumers is to be strengthened and energy aggregation services are to be developed and popularized. These demands also require changes in the infrastructure, primarily in the scope of reading devices as well as advanced metering systems.
PEP 2040 – the main challenges
There are less than 20 years left to implement the assumptions of the new Polish Energy Policy. During this time, governments will be obliged to take intensive measures to ensure energy security of the country while maintaining the competitiveness of the economy, as well as to increase energy efficiency while reducing the sector's impact on the environment. According to PEP 2040, the energy transformation will require the involvement of many entities and substantial investment expenditures, the scale of which in 2021-2040 may even reach about PLN 1.6 trillion. This is an unimaginably high amount for Polish conditions.
– Electricity is a strategic good for the economy and consumers. Electricity consumption is constantly growing in Poland, and emission restrictions require immediate action. Therefore, finding funds for the implementation of PEP 2040 should be a priority – Paweł Pisarczyk, CEO of Atende Industries from Atende Group, says.
The foundation of the energy system in the future will be distributed citizen energy technology. The Sejm is currently proceeding a government draft of the act amending the Energy Law Act and certain other acts, which, among other things, will result in the adjustment of the Polish law to the regulations applicable in the EU in terms of efficient operation of the smart metering system in the electricity sector, which is the key to the implementation of prosumer energy.
– The objectives set out in the Polish Energy Policy 2040 are indeed very ambitious. In order to accomplish them in full, we should have started working on them as early as... yesterday. The first and by no means the least complicated stage of the work must be the issue of legal regulations and ordinances. This is the foundation on the basis of which the process of the strategy implementation can be continued – Paweł Pisarczyk says.
Smart meters are required to meet the demands for strengthening prosumer participation. Estimated data from distribution network operators show that smart meters are currently installed at about 1.9 million end-users. The target total number of end-users is estimated to be about 16.3 million. Thus, about 14.4 million of these meters remain to be replaced.
– We welcomed the new emphasis in the climate policy of the Polish Government. We are happy because of the growing share of RES in the national energy mix, the progressive digitalization of the energy sector, new regulations related to smart metering and energy efficiency improvement. Apator is ready in terms of products and operations to roll out smart meters in Poland – Artur Bratkowski, Director for Equipment and Metering Systems of Apator S.A., assures.
– However, it must be clearly stated that replacement of devices on such a large scale will be a huge challenge and logistical undertaking for DSOs. The ordinances to the Energy Law Act will be of key importance, as they will define, among other things, the requirements for meters and reading systems. It is also necessary to clarify important issues, such as cyber security. We should remember that smart meters will work in the power grid, which is sensitive to the security of the country. Suppliers of such equipment should be thoroughly verified and the security of devices and systems provided by them should be confirmed by reliable audits. Ordering parties should also consider on-site support of the supplier's engineering and service teams. I think these are solid arguments for energy companies to pay their attention to national and European entities.
We have created not only devices, but also metering systems, whose functionality resembles modern computers. Almost one million Polish households already have meters read by the redGrid system we offer – but this is still a drop in the ocean of needs. We also have besmart.energy software to manage local communities where prosumers generate energy – Paweł Pisarczyk adds.
Data as the basis for transformation of the Polish energy sector
To effectively manage the power consumption of so-called energy clusters, the data delivered in real time are needed. According to PEP 2040, the National Grid System is required to ensure full energy security. This means the necessity to maintain stability of energy supply not only through expansion and modernization of the TSO (transmission systems) and DSO (distribution systems) infrastructure, or ensuring to meet the demand for power by, among others, the construction of further sources of renewable energy. Above all, it is necessary to efficiently manage the power grid in real time in order to quickly respond to failures or disturbances of the system operation.
– PEP2040 assumes that DSOs will invest in RES and support active consumers and local balancing. However, it must be made clear that the failure to provide consumers with real-time or near real-time information about their energy consumption makes it virtually impossible for them to actively participate in the electricity market and in the energy technology transformation process. Therefore, consumers must be equipped with smart metering systems and have access to agreements with dynamic electricity prices. Only then can we actually benefit from direct participation in this market – Artur Bratkowski says.
– If we want to truly change, we need to base our actions on reliable data and create energy technology based on very specific numbers regarding current supply and demand. This is a difficult process that requires much more than just replacing meters with more modern ones, because energy technology should get data from all kinds of metering devices, not only from meters. Devices should transmit data to the cloud, and these data can be used in many ways. Among other things, it will become possible to balance energy, as well as to develop predictions that will allow to anticipate infrastructure damage and failures. This will allow to react in real time and maintain the optimal state of the power grid. Data are the most important piece of this complex puzzle – Paweł Pisarczyk adds.
Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things as the main pillars of changing and strengthening the competitiveness of Polish enterprises
Energy transformation involves creating new industry branches co-participating in the transformation of the energy sector.
– We have gigantic competencies needed to build Industry 4.0. Polish people are considered to be some of the best programmers in the world. We have very talented young people who have no complexes and want to change the world. They win IT contests. The role of IT in Industry 4.0 is crucial. For many years, Atende has been developing platforms for collecting large data sets from devices aggregated in the Internet of Things ecosystem, which are based on our proprietary NoSQL database called TStorage – Paweł Pisarczyk says.
Atende Industries is a company that is actively involved in the digital transformation of many industry sectors, especially modern energy technology. It develops software for Smart Grid (AMI) networks, platforms for distributed energy technology, systems for analyzing the environment of collaborative robots, and platforms for processing data from the Internet of Things devices. Products offered by Atende Industries are based on proprietary technology developed for many years and on the experience related to the implementation of the largest smart metering system in Poland.
One of the company's main fields of activity is the development of specialized cloud platforms for Industry 4.0. The main products of the company include: redGrid (MDM and HES class system) for management of smart energy meters in modern Smart Grids, implemented among others in Energa-Operator and besmart.energy – a cloud platform for distributed energy, allowing for operation of energy cooperatives and micro grids. The company is also developing besmart.vision, a platform for controlling collaborative robots (cobots) based on smart analysis of the environment, and besmart.dev, a platform for collecting and processing data from the Internet of Things devices.
Atende Industries, in cooperation with Apator S.A., creates solutions for the power sector. Currently, the companies, together with Phoenix Systems from Atende Group, are working on an innovative meter with highly developed functions. The device works in a way similar to a conventional computer, where you can run applications that allow you to communicate with your lights or inverters and give you real-time information.
– Market leaders need to follow the market transformation and even anticipate trends and stay ahead of expectations of customers of the utilities sector. Each year, Apator introduces innovative metering solutions to the market, e.g. new generations of meters with application of modern communication technologies, which are the optimum solution for power grids with a growing share of distributed renewable energy sources. Our OTUS meter, used e.g. in prosumer installations today, provides wide parameters of measurements and diversity in terms of communication methods – Artur Bratkowski says. – It is worth to mention that Apator develops the solutions both in own R&D offices but also on the basis of technological partnerships, what is exemplified by cooperation with teams from Atende Group. We are currently working together on new solutions that will bring a new quality in metering efficiency, but also open the door for the development of completely new services on the basis of measurement data.
– The market sees the benefits of such a meter because applications that will ′talk′ to the devices without the operator's involvement can be installed on this meter. Cooperation with Apator is the example of classic synergy. With this alliance, we are able to make a really smart device. This is a revolution which can be compared to the entry of smartphones into the market – Paweł Pisarczyk concludes.