Ukraine’s DTEK continues EU push with purchase of Polish battery storage project

DTEK’s first major infrastructure investment in Poland is a key building block in the company’s plan to create a pan-European energy system uniting Ukraine and the EU.

DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy company which has in recent months been making a concerted push to boost its presence in the European Union, entered the Polish renewables market this week through an acquisition of the largest battery storage project in Poland, made through DTEK’s EU-focused renewable energy subsidiary, DRI.

DRI signed a final binding share purchase agreement with Poland’s Columbus Energy on March 27 which will give it the right to build a 133 MW battery storage facility in southern Poland, subject to permitting approvals.

The agreement is DTEK’s first major infrastructure investment in Poland and a key building block in the company’s plan to create a pan-European energy system uniting Ukraine and the EU.

DTEK’s goal is to build a 5 GW portfolio of renewable energy projects in Europe by 2030, via DRI.

According to Maxim Timchencko, DTEK’s CEO, the deal is an exciting moment in Europe’s aspirations to move beyond fossil fuels.

“This project will not only provide vital flexibility in Poland’s journey to a renewable future but will be an important test case for Central and Eastern Europe in demonstrating how battery storage can be deployed successfully,” he says. 

“DTEK’s investment in the country is a crucial step towards the integration of Ukraine and Poland’s energy systems.”

Battery storage is a crucial technology in accelerating decarbonisation through the adoption of renewables, while maintaining system flexibility.

Currently, Poland relies on 30 GW of coal, lignite and natural gas-fuelled power to balance the energy system which is increasingly adopting renewables and shifting from centralised to distributed generation.

Battery storage is well-positioned to help ensure the grid’s operability, provide the system with firm capacity and complement the intermittent nature of renewable power.

“It is great to see international energy players like DTEK investing into the Polish battery storage market,” says Krzysztof Kochanowski, Vice-President of the Management Board and General Director of PIME, the largest association in the energy storage industry in Poland.

“Poland is one of the leaders in the European Union in the production of batteries and battery cells, and in the next five years it will also be one of the leaders in the construction of energy storage facilities using battery technology. The construction of this new facility will certainly contribute to our country’s efforts.”            

War no handicap to expansion of renewable capacity

The acquisition makes DTEK Group one of the first companies developing this technology at scale in Poland.

DRI expects to close the deal with Columbus in the coming months and break ground at the site in the fourth quarter of 2024 in order to complete construction and commence operations in early 2026.

The project has an obligation to provide energy capacity to the Polish market for 17 years from 2027, having been successful in the 2022 Capacity Market auction organised by PSE, the Polish Transmission System Operator.

DTEK Group already has experience in battery technology via its pilot project in Enerhodar, Ukraine, commissioned in 2021.

DTEK is also Ukraine’s largest renewables investor, and last year completed phase one of the Tyligulska Wind Power Plant on the shores of the Black Sea—the world’s first wind project built during a war.

At the COP28 climate summit, DTEK unveiled plans to quadruple the windfarm’s size in partnership with the turbine manufacturer Vestas.

In January, DTEK’s subsidiary DRI went live with its first projects: the 60 MW Ruginoasa wind farm and the 53 MW Glodeni solar farm, both in Romania.

DRI also has a substantial portfolio of future projects in development across Romania, Italy, and Croatia.

Good for Ukraine, good for the EU

The integration of Ukraine into the European Union’s energy infrastructure is not merely a business venture; it’s a significant step towards a sustainable and secure energy future for Europe.

DTEK’s move therefore underscores the urgent need for diversification of energy sources and the transition towards renewable energy across the continent. By leveraging battery storage technology, this project aims to address the inherent challenges of renewable energy, such as intermittency, and ensures a reliable, flexible energy supply.

Furthermore, it represents a critical bridge between Eastern and Western Europe, fostering energy independence, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and enhancing geopolitical stability in the region.

As Europe moves towards a greener future, the inclusion of Ukraine in its energy strategy is pivotal, not only for the environmental benefits but also for the political and economic integration of the continent.

Such initiatives, including the pioneering investment in Poland, illustrate the tangible benefits of cross-border energy cooperation, setting a precedent for future investments and reinforcing the importance of a united European approach to renewable energy development.

Photo by Valentyn Chernetskyi on Unsplash

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