WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Deadly high winds that struck Northern Europe last week generated a record level of wind energy for Poland, covering some 30% of the demand in a country where most of its electricity comes from coal, Poland's power distribution operator said Monday.
On Wednesday evening when gale-force winds hit “we registered a record level of power generation from wind farms of some 6,700 megawatts,” Maciej Wapinski of the Polish Power System, PSE, told The Associated Press.
The demand at that time in Poland, an European Union nation of 38 million, was nearly 24,000 megawatts, meaning that "wind farms covered almost 30% of the demand,” Wapinski said in an email.
PSE ensures the distribution of electric energy across Poland.
Janusz Gajowiecki, head of the Polish Wind Energy Association, says on average, wind farms supply some 10% of Poland's annual energy demand and stressed that the potential can be much higher.
But as the storm intensified over the weekend, destroying power lines and causing some turbines to switch off automatically for safety reasons, power levels from wind farms fell to about half of the record level, Wapinski said.
Renewable power accounts for 25% of Poland's energy mix and is rising, especially in the wind and solar energy sectors. As a result, the role of black and brown coal is diminishing slightly but still accounts for 65% of Poland's energy generation. Another 6% comes from gas, chiefly from Russia.
Wind farms represent 42% of Poland's renewable energy and another 45% comes from solar panels.
In the gas sector, Poland has been taking steps to reduce its dependence on Russian imports. Its Baltic Sea LNG port, where shipments come from Qatar and the U.S., is being expanded, and a pipeline is being built to bring in gas from Norway.
During the recent storms, four people were reported killed in Poland and at least nine were injured, as high winds felled trees and tore off roofs.