Just 100 kilometers outside the capital of Poland, the countryside looks exactly like you would picture beautiful farmlands: flat as far as the eyes can see, interrupted by dense pine forests. But just one bend ahead there is a new sight, one of the country’s first and few PV farms.
Operated by Renesola, it went online in 2018 and makes up for 1 MW of the company’s 55 MW of installed PV capacity in the Central European country.
Renesola is one of the very first PV developers and operators whose bids were awarded in the Polish auction system for the installation of PV capacity and today runs the largest PV portfolio in the country. The auction system was introduced in 2015 to kick off the transition towards renewables. Hubert Banaszkiewicz, Director PV Project Polska at Renesola, explains the intricacies of the new auction system: “We decided to build the first PV parks all at a capacity just below 1 MW and needed to find an energy trader that would take our PV power into their balancing group and then manage it. Since the auction system does not allow for the sale of green certificates like its predecessor, the trading scheme had to be adapted to take into account the negative balance which basically is the difference between the baseload price on the spot market and the successful bid in the auction. We looked at a variety of trading houses, but only Next Kraftwerke was able to provide us with a transparent and pragmatic contract which also allows us to profit from the positive profile of our PV plants.” Since the baseload price on the Polish spot market is still dominated by baseload conventional generators like coal, solar power has one advantage: It generates power when demand and thus prices are highest. This structural advantage helps Renesola to gain additional benefits above its awarded bid in the auction – especially in summer time, when conventional generators have troubles to run on full capacity due to the lack of cooling water. While Next Kraftwerke, the Polish subsidiary of Next Kraftwerke, assumes all forecasting and trading risks like imbalance costs, it passes on the benefits resulting from the positive profile of PV generation in Poland to Renesola. For its services, Next Kraftwerke receives a fixed fee per managed MWh.
In order to minimize costly forecast deviations, Renesola and Next Kraftwerke have opted to use a SCADA connection to transmit live data from all of the contracted PV parks to the central control system of the Virtual Power Plant Next Pool. This way, day ahead forecasts based on meteorological and historical data continuously and automatically get updated with live information on current infeed from the PV sites. Subsequently, trading of a variable power source like solar power becomes less adventurous and more reliable. Renesola receives its monthly billing with the earnings of power trading through the online customer portal "My Power Plant". Next Kraftwerke also assumes the task of communicating infeed data to Polish Settlement Manager ZR S.A. to ensure the prompt and correct calculation of negative balance payments through the feed-in premium scheme. “We feel like we are in good hands with our PV farms and hope the very smooth cooperation between the two companies will go on further”, Hubert Banaszkiewicz adds.