Powering a train at a speed of 160kmph: this Polish facility does it

PKP Energetyka, the electricity distributor to the Polish railway network, has launched a new traction energy storage facility. According to the company, it is the largest facility in Europe of its kind, and it can power a train traveling at a speed of 160 km per hour. The energy reservoir is built in Garbce, in the commune of Żmigród in Lower Silesia Region.

The storage facility will strengthen the security and quality of energy supply to the railways, balance the power drawn from the Polish National Power System, and allow for more efficient use of renewable energy sources, PKP Energetyka stated. The value of the project is nearly 20 million Polish zloty (ca 4.4 million euros). The storage facility was created in cooperation with the University of Zielona Góra.

Charging the fastest trains

The plant in Garbce has a capacity of 5.5 MW and a usable capacity of 1.2 MWh. It includes four battery containers with a total of 4,240 modern lithium-ion batteries, made with NMC technology. This solution takes into account the nature of rail power, allowing the storage facility to charge slowly and release stored energy quickly when a train passes. The storage facility is capable of powering even the fastest trains within a few seconds.

At the heart of the storage facility is a DC/DC power converter that operates directly on DC/DC voltage, an innovative solution on a European scale. In the case of other DC-powered rail systems, traction storage facilities yield AC output, forcing additional DC/AC/DC conversion. Bypassing this transformation significantly improves storage facility operations and results in energy savings that are not lost in the transition stages.

Infographic energy storage

Specificity of the Polish railways

“During three years of intensive work, we created a solution from scratch that is unique in Europe, despite the pandemic”, said Professor Grzegorz Benysek, project research, and development manager.

“It takes into account the specificity of the Polish railways and the national power supply system by defining the optimal values of power and capacity. This was possible, among other things, through developing a control algorithm and a selection of energy storage facility parameters. I am glad that this task has been entrusted to our Polish, talented scientists.

“Together with PKP Energetyka, we worked out a solution that will not only serve its purpose for the next 15 years but will also be the basis for multiplying this type of equipment in other locations.”

300 more power banks

This is the first of about 300 power banks planned for the railways in Poland. Each will be part of a broader power ecosystem that also includes a traction substation and eventually a photovoltaic for other renewable energy sources – creating a Local Balancing Area (Polish: Lokalny Obszar Bilansowania, LOB).

The storage facility is fully metered and automated, which allows for remote control and configuration of selected need-based parameters. “PKP Energetyka’s investment in Garbce is an extremely important idea, which is entirely consistent with Polish governmental and EU policies under the European Green Deal. Together, we are building a comfortable, safe and predictable railway, bearing in mind that it is the safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transport”, said Andrzej Bittel, Secretary of State at the Polish ministry of infrastructure.

RailFreight Summit

The railway network in Poland will be among the topics discussed at the RailFreight Summit Poland. This year, this event takes place in Lodz, on 1 & September. The infrastructural developments in Poland, but also on the network surrounding Poland, including the New Silk Road, are topics on the programmeRegistration for this event is still open.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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