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Poland's main Belchatow power plant crippled by outage

Energy experts worked Tuesday to restore full operations at Poland’s biggest power plant, the lignite coal-fueled Belchatow, after a network failure switched off 10 of the plant’s 11 units.

Energy imports from Germany and Sweden were needed to fill in for the suddenly missing power.

It was a second major outage since 2015 at Belchatow, which provides up to 20% of energy in Poland, where 65% of power comes from black coal and lignite.

The outage occurred late Monday, due to a failure of power station where 10 of Belchatow's units are connected. The largest, 11th unit, is connected to a different power station and was not affected.

Poland's chief energy distributor, PGE, said early Tuesday that work had been restored in six of the units, but that restarting them after a total cut was a big challenge.

PGE spokeswoman, Beata Jarosz-Dziekanowska, said the nationwide energy system was working properly and no power shortages were expected.

“As the system's operator, we have the required reserves and we can always use imports” within the European energy network, Jarosz-Dziekanowska said.

The outage underscored the need for a faster diversification of Poland's energy sources, where renewables account for less than 18% of the mix and are chiefly represented by solar.

Belchatow, in central Poland, combines Europe's largest lignite mine and Poland's largest power plant. With total power of some 5.3 GW, it supplies energy to some 11.5 million households.

It was previously taken off the grid in 2015, when a massive heat wave and unprecedented demand for cooling power led to a failure of operations.