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The hydropower sector in Poland: Historical development and current status

History of development and the current status of hydropower in Poland were presented. -The low hydropower potential of Poland is due to the country's natural conditions. -Poland has one of the lowest rates of installed and generated hydropower in Europe. -Polish hydropower potential against other European countries is presented.

The paper presents the historical overview and the current state of the hydropower sector in Poland. The history of Polish hydropower sector reaches over 120 years of tradition. The first power plants on Polish territory were built at the end of the 19th century. The development of the hydropower sector in Poland was irregular due to the First and Second World War. Moreover, the economic crisis of the 1970s was another factor affecting the development of the hydropower sector. After the political system change in 1989, favourable conditions for the development of the hydropower sector were created. Furthermore, the development of the hydropower sector was significantly affected by Poland's accession to the European Union. Currently in Poland there are 771 run-of -river hydropower plants of which 761 are small hydropower plants with installed capacity amounts below 10 MW. The total power of run of the river hydropower plants is 937 MW. The largest installed capacity is in the pumped storage hydropower plants, whose total installed capacity is 1433 MW. Poland ranks far in Europe in terms of installed capacity and production of electricity by hydropower plants. In recent years, the development of large hydropower plants has stopped mainly due to environmental and economic reasons. However, there is a constantly growing interest in small hydropower plants. The analyses show that the role of hydropower in stabilizing the power generation system in Poland is important. The hydropower plants provide a perfect answer for the development of other, unstable renewable energy sources.