Fortum is a leading clean-energy company that provides its customers with electricity, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. Its operations span across the Nordic and Baltic states, as well as Russia, India and several other countries.
Can you briefly introduce Fortum and your presence in the Polish energy arena?
Fortum has a strong presence in the Nordics, Baltics and Russia, so Poland was a natural choice. We have developed quickly here and we still see opportunity for growth. Our two key milestones here have been our CHP plants – the first was opened in 2010 in Czestochowa, and only last year in 2018 we opened the second in Zabrze. In addition we also run district heating networks in Wrocław, Częstochowa and Płock. In 2016 we acquired an energy sales company previously knows as Duon, which allowed us a successful entry into the retail sector.
Cogeneration is championed as a potential solution to some of Poland’s energy and climate targets – what is the rationale for the second CHP plant?
Fortum’s overarching ambition is to engage partners for a cleaner world. Our two CHP plants have been an implementation of this strategy. Our 2010 cogeneration plant replaced a much less efficient heat only boiler system, and could use 30% biomass, which was rare at the time. For Zabrze we chose a state of the art flexible fuel system that can use coal, RDF (waste based fuel), and possibly biomass. We cannot be sure how market conditions and fuel availabilities will evolve over time, and a flexible fuel CHP means we can be prepared, come what may. Investments in the energy industry are not made to last for years, but for decades.
We are a market leader in the retail sector in the Nordics, so this expansion came naturally in Poland. tNow over three years later we can see that it was a success, and the Nordic culture blends in well with Polish creativity to address local needs.
Indeed there seems to be growing awareness for a need to diversify and become more sustainable – do you feel like this sentiment is becoming visible in Poland, is there an appetite for cleaner energy?
Environmental awareness of Polish society increases steadily. People are concerned about air quality. They are increasingly aware that the energy choices they make have direct consequences on the air they breathe, and the consequences of burning fossil fuels can be dire. In busy city centers the solution is district heating.
Fortum has a unique program in Wroclaw, where we pledged to connect everyone in the city center to district heating, regardless of commercial reasons. The exact area targeted by the program was defined by comparing the map of air pollution (the problem) with the map of DH network (the solution). We focus on areas where the two maps overlapped. Since program launch in early 2018, over 2500 residents got access to district heating.
E-mobility is a growing trend all over the world, and an area where Fortum also has a strong footprint – do you have plans for expanding it here?
We do have significant experience with charging systems in the Nordics, where we have our own charging stations. Internationally, also in Poland, we offer Charge&Drive software for providers of charging services. We contribute to the development of e-mobility solutions.
One particularly exciting project we worked on was the very first flight of an electric plane in Poland, which we organized earlier this year using a two-seater electric, ultra light plane.
We flew the plane cross-country starting in Wroclaw, passing through the South of Poland and landing in Gdansk. The focus was to figure out how to build a reliable and efficient aircraft charging network.
What is your vision for Fortum in Poland for the medium term and do you foresee challenges standing in your way?
We are in it for the long term – this is the nature of our business, but also the way we like to run things. We have built 2 CHPs, we are developing our DH networks and we grow on the electricity and gas retail market. We work on the development of new products and services for end users. Polish economy is advancing at a stable pace, the society is more and more aware of importance of sustainable solutions. We are optimistic about the future.
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