Winter dampener on coal-fired power, Macron’s olive branch and the first driverless tram

Coal-fired power generation falls on back of mild winter, President Macron arrives in Warsaw with olive branch and Kraków tests the first autonomous tram in Poland.
Micro Bite: A mild winter dampens demand for coal-fired power generation

In December, coal-fired power plants in Poland produced 14% less energy (6.4 TWh) than December 2018 (including 21% less from brown coal) and overall, electricity generation around Poland dropped by 8% YoY with demand falling by 3%, reported the newspaper Rzeczpospolita on Monday. The demand for natural gas also fell with PGNiG group, Poland’s largest natural gas supplier, reporting a 3% drop in sales last quarter.

Analysts have attributed this reduction to the unseasonably warm temperatures that the country has been experiencing this winter. Warsaw only received its first proper snowfall on 29 January – the latest on record. The Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (Instytut Meteorologii i Gospodarki Wodnej) reported that the whole year of 2019 was the warmest in Poland since 1951.
The irregular weather has caused a whole range of industries to fret, from coal mining to the ski fields. The agriculture sector is particularly anxious to see whether the mild winter will invite an early attack of pests on autumn crops or spell a third year of drought.

PTnewsBites: latest news about Poland at a micro-level mixed with the bigger nationwide trends, with something extra on the side – all bundled up in one weekly bite-size news package. All Bison. No Bull.

Macro Bite: French President Macron arrives in Warsaw on a trip to restore relations
Photo: Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP

It was a long-overdue visit, (six years to be exact) but the President of France arrived in Warsaw this week in an effort to improve relations with Poland and strengthen the European project now that the UK has officially left the union.

French President Emmanuel Macron met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, even though he has criticised Poland’s government in the past due to its policies regarding migrants, coal culture and judiciary reform.

However, considering the UK is no longer an EU member, Poland is now the fifth largest EU country by population with the expectation that this shift will transfer into an increase in importance in Brussels. The remaining members should strive to become more efficient and attractive, according to Duda.

“Pretty special, a few days after Brexit,” Macron said, describing the trip to Poland. “It also shows our will, between strategic partners, big European powers, being able to … reactivate a productive dialogue and make our Europe stronger, more sovereign, more united.”

Despite Macron’s pro-European efforts to speak out against Poland’s changes to the judiciary system, Duda still signed a controversial bill the next day that allows for punitive measures against dissenting judges. The government has defended the much-criticised legislation as an attempt to hold the judges accountable and prevent “anarchy”. More on this story here.

Side Bite: Kraków tests the first autonomous tram in Poland

That’s one small step for Kraków, one giant leap for smart transportation in Poland. The country’s first autonomous tram went for a test drive and successfully ran a distance of nearly 4km with special passengers and technicians on board.

In an effort to check the new driver assistance system and its possibilities, the three-car Newag Nevelo tram, also known as type 126N, made its unmanned journey from the National Museum to the ‘Quiet Corner’ (Cichy Kącik) stop, made a loop and arrived back at the starting point. 

The new technology was developed and installed by Newag, whose trams have been operating in Kraków since June 2013. Along with the municipal transport company, MPK Kraków, the project was made possible with assistance from the Cracow University of Technology (Politechnika Krakowska), Rail Vehicles Institute ‘Tabor’ (Instytut Pojazdów Szynowych ‘Tabor’), and also companies CYBID and MEDCOM. 

Mayor Jacek Majchrowski said, “Kraków is constantly interested in innovative solutions which have an impact on improving the safety and comfort of passengers and drivers, as well as the environment.”

Although the tram passed the test and this automated technology is expected to be implemented for regular traffic, it is unclear when the traditional trams with drivers will be replaced with these unmanned systems. 

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Written by: Poland Today Team