PGE: from filthy to clean – 600 MW of solar to replace Europe’s largest coal plant

Polish utility PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna SA announced plans to deploy 600 MW of solar, and potentially some wind power capacity, at the site of its Belchatow coal-fired power plant in Lodz Province, central Poland.

Under the plan, the utility will install the photovoltaic (PV) parks by the end of 2024 and possibly around 100 MW of onshore wind turbines within five to seven years. It explained, however, that the wind scheme depends on a governmental decision to ease existing regulations for the installation of turbines close to residential dwellings and protected areas. Plans to change the rules on turbine distance are in progress.

The PV plants will span an area of over 500 ha (1,236 acres). Some of them will be installed near the coal-fired complex’s combustion waste landfill.

PGE’s proposal is part of the company’s strategy to transform the 4.93-GW lignite-fired power complex, which is the largest thermal power station in Europe but also the largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the EU. The capacity will be gradually phased out and replaced by clean power.

Last year, PGE said it will sell 100% energy from renewables in 2050, in line with the goal to be climate neutral by that time. It then adopted a transformation plan under which its core business will change to renewables generation, low- and zero-carbon district heating, reliable network infrastructure and modern energy services.

Over the next 10 years, PGE intends to install 2.5 GW offshore wind, 3 GW of solar and at least 1 GW of onshore wind capacity.

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