In 1952 electrical power engineering was divided into six district power distribution boards, abolished as late as 1988. Over the years, organisational structure underwent a number of modifications, in principle related to the central level of Polish electrical power engineering management. Initially (after the period of liberation) the power industry fell under the authority of the Ministry of Industry.
On 27 March 1947 the Ministry of Industry and Trade (along with the power industry) was created. On 10 February 1949 the Ministry of Mining and Power Engineering was established. The powers of the department of electrical power engineering were transferred to the Ministry of Heavy Industry on 7 March 1950, and on 15 February 1952 the Ministry of Power Industry was created. On 1 July 1952 it had six power districts:
• Central – seated in Warsaw;
• Eastern – seated in Radom;
• Southern – seated in Katowice;
• Lower Silesian – seated in Wrocław;
• Western – seated in Poznań;
• Northern – seated in Bydgoszcz.
The districts grouped the whole electrical power industry (networks, stations, substations, power plants, combined heat and power plants) within a specified area. They were equivalent to state-owned enterprises and the dependent units with limited leeway – they obtained targets to meet from the districts (wage bills, repairs, investments, etc.).
Acute shortages in personnel, especially in enterprises, gave reasons for the existence of districts which administered highly-qualified technical staff. In the following years, as new professionals appeared in the sector, the districts’ role became less prominent, turning even into an obstacle to the Polish electrical power industry’s development in the final period of their operations. Nonetheless, they were preserved for nearly 36 years and made a positive contribution to the development of Polish electrical power engineering.
The Power Industry Association was established as part of the Ministry of Mining and Power Engineering in 1959. After liquidation of the districts (1988) organisational units (power distribution companies, power plants, combined heat and power plants, manufacturing works) were granted the status of state-owned enterprises, later commercial partnerships. In accordance with the approved privatisation programme part of the partnerships were sold to foreign investors. As a result of power industry consolidation in 2006, the country’s territory was divided into four power engineering organisations: PGE – Polska Grupa Energetyczna, TAURON (Katowice), ENERGA (Gdańsk) and ENEA (Poznań).
Development of the industry and the country’s electrification imposed the expansion and construction of new transmission grids, power plants and power industry. The process of power system construction entailed thousands of tons of steel, cement and other materials, countless numbers of electric engines, pumps, kilometres of cables and wires as well as equipment and apparatuses. New boiler, generator and turbine factories were built.
The newly created power industry successfully sold its products on markets worldwide. Boiler factories: RAFAKO, SEFAKO and FAKOP, turbines – ZAMECH, generators – DOLMEL, transformers – Elta, fans – FAWENT, instruments – CHEMAR Kielce, Mechanical Furnaces in Mikułowa, electrical precipitators in Pszczyna and many more became known in the world.
A national system was created in 1962. It was managed by the Power Dispatch Centre established in 1950. The interconnection grid was based on a 110 kV network. The 220 kV grid was expanded in order to lead the power out of Upper Silesia to the deficit areas of Warsaw and Łódź. The 220 kV line between Łagisza and Łódź was launched in 1952. An Upper Silesia-Łódź-Warsaw-Radom-Upper Silesia 220 kV ring was already in operation in 1957.
The sixties were the period of the development of 220 kV grid. The first 400 kV line in Poland was put into operation in 1964. It connected Turów power plant with the central regions of the country. Modern massive power plants were established: Turoszów, Ostrołęka, PAK, Połaniec, Dolna Odra and Bełchatów, the biggest Polish power plant, providing power for the grid since 1982. On 12 October 1988 the last unit built at the 1st stage of investment – unit No. 12 was put into service. From that day the installed capacity of the power plant was 4,320 MW.
The first 200 MW unit in Poland was introduced at the Turów Power Plant in 1962. Consequently, domestic production of 360 MW units (BBC licence) was started. Bełchatów was equipped with them. Putting into operation two 500 MW units of USSR production in Kozienice Power Plant was a significant event.
The period between 1945 and 2000 in power plant construction in Poland can be divided into four stages:
1st stage – installation of various imported devices – with the turbine set power of 25-55 MW (1945 – 1955).
2nd stage – stabilisation of incoming steam (pressure of 90 atm, temperature of 500-535°C), launching turbine sets of up to 100 MW, the first production of Polish turbine sets of 25 and 50 MW (1955 – 1960).
3rd stage – introduction of large electrical power units (125, 200, 360 MW) with secondary steam progress (pressure of 126-130 atm, 535-540°C) – 1960 – 1970, construction of the following plants: Siersza, Turoszów, Łagisza, Adamów, Konin, Łaziska, Pątnów – 7,575 MW in total.
4th stage – commencement of the construction of power plants with 360 MW units and two 550 MW units, extension and construction of the following plants: Turoszów, Łagisza, Łaziska, Pątnów, Rybnik, Ostrołęka B, Kozienice, Dolna Odra, Jaworzno III, the first units in Połaniec. The total – a record-breaking increase in power output – amounted to 11,401 MW, including 10,070 MW in heat power plants, 557 MW in hydroelectric power plants and 774 MW in industrial plants. In some years several units were commissioned within a year (four units, 200 MW each, were put into operation in Kozienice in 1973 and three 200 MW units in Dolna Odra in 1975).
Polish engineering solutions were applied at the construction of electrical power engineering grid, stations, substations, power plants and any other power devices. The work carried out by institutes, design studios, measurement and research departments, and hundreds of production plants enabled establishing a modern electrical power industry which made a contribution to the reconstruction and development of the Polish economy.
It must be stated that the pace of grid and plant construction has slowed down in recent years (since 1990). This is a result of the decrease in electricity consumption (part of the energy-intensive industries were closed down). On the other hand, it is worth noticing that recently Polish electrical power engineering has acquired new modern equipment, especially as regards measurements, teletransmission, automatic control, remote control engineering, information technology, transport, etc. Also significant work was completed to adapt the Polish electrical power industry to the requirements of the European Union.
A passive attitude towards development of hydroelectric power engineering in the first 1947-1949 plan, followed by the power industry’s tendencies to minimise its share in the costs of hydrotechnical systems development, led to delays in the development of hydroelectric power engineering.
The effects of the expansion of its production potential were hardly noticeable in the first two decades after the war. Dychów plant was reconstructed with the pumping unit – in 1961 it achieved the power of 76 MW, and 20 MW in the pumps in 1964. Wały Power Plant on the Oder with the capacity of 10.8 MW was put into operation in 1958, the Koronowo Power Plant on the Brda with the capacity of 27.5 MW, designed already before the war, was launched in 1961. A 20 MW plant was launched on Zegrze barrage; it was put into operation in 1963. The construction of the 21 MW Tresna Hydroelectric Power Plant started in 1958 and was continued with a break resulting from landslides of the So3a’s bank, until the end in 1967, which was more than two decades after the war.
Similarly, the Solina Hydroelectric Power Plant with the total power capacity of 137 MW in four turbine sets, including two reversible ones of 42.4 MW in total, were commissioned as late as 1968 after the painstaking removal of a number of defects in prototype reversible turbine sets made from Czechoslovakian deliveries. Its first designs originated in the pre-war period; however, the barrage construction was started in 1960. In the first twenty years after the war, several hydroelectric power plants were thus under construction but their start-up partly took place in the second twenty-year period, while the peak load power in Dychów and Solina plants, vital for the electrical power engineering system, in total amounted to a mere 62.4 MW.
Due to general system reasons, both run-of-river power plants and pumped-storage hydroelectric power plants were built. The following constructions were completed:
• Solina Hydroelectric Power Plant with the capacity of 137 MW where reversible turbine sets were used for the first time in Poland;
• Włocławek Hydroelectric Power Plant with the capacity of 162 MW;
• Żydowo pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant with the capacity of 152 MW, in which two lakes situated at different heights were used for the first time in Poland;
• Porąbka-Żar pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant with the capacity 500 MW and 432-metre drop, where reversible turbine sets were used;
• Żarnowiec pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant with the capacity of 600 MW.
Growth of centralised management of heat production started in 1953 with the conversion of Warsaw power plant in Powiole into a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The conversion consisted in adaptating condensing turbines to work with deteriorated vacuum.
At the same time, all old condensing power plants provided with adequate heat removal were subsequently converted. The next stage of advancement in heat engineering was reflected in the construction of CHP plants with bleeder-condensing turbines adapted to conveying both steam with the pressure of 0.1 – 0.2 MPa for heating purposes and steam with the pressure level of 0.8 MPa for industrial technology.
Production of electric energy in CHP plants successfully competed at the time with condensing power plants. The situation became less favourable for the combined heat and power plants when new large condensing power plants with lower specific heat consumption began to be introduced after 1960. Construction of power plants with bleeder-condensing turbines was then terminated. The future of such CHP plants was additionally doomed by the construction of large high efficiency district boiler houses and the delay in the construction of heat distribution networks. The study on combined heat and power plant types demonstrated the economic dominance of CHP plants with heating units equipped with counter-pressure turbines. The concept’s realisation started in the second twenty-year period after the war.