STUDY VISIT TO PROMET-PLAST IN GAJ OŁAWSKI
On Thursday, 11 January 2024, my International Business students and other members of our academic community interested in the topic of energy transition had the opportunity to visit the Promet-Plast company in Gaj Oławski. The study visit, which I organised, allowed the participants to learn about this company’s unique national and European achievements in the field of energy transition.
The Promet Plast company is located approximately 30 km from Wrocław, and thanks to the wind turbines towering over the horizon, it is visible from a distance. At the beginning of the visit, participants were able to learn about the company’s rich history, which dates back to 1982. Today, this international company specialises in the production of medical devices by injection moulding. In line with the expectations of national and international business partners, Promet-Plast is constantly striving to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the manufactured products. This is made possible through intensive specialisation in the area of sustainable generation of energy from renewable sources (RES). What particularly distinguishes the company is the internal integration of energy procurement, storage, distribution and end-use systems. To this objective, Promet-Plast has implemented a number of technologically advanced solutions characterised by low or zero emissions of harmful substances while taking care to realise the objectives of closed-cycle resource management.
Zero-emission production halls, autonomous agricultural machinery and hydrogen installations
The four-hour visit to Promet-Plast included a number of diverse activities prepared by company representatives. At the beginning of the visit, participants visited the zero-emission and fully automated production halls. The students and other participants of the visit were able to see how modern electric injection moulding machines, or autonomous robots, which enable the production of the medical devices in question, function. Right next to the production halls, the participants of the visit could admire the extensive hydro-photovoltaic installations raised six metres above the level of agricultural land. Promet-Plast’s patented technology for the construction of these installations, referred to as ‘Agro-Hydro-Energy’, makes it possible to harness solar energy, collect excess rainwater and simultaneously grow the fibre plants needed to produce some of the medical devices.
Interestingly, Promet-Plast uses zero-emission autonomous agricultural machinery powered by lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells when growing crops. A demonstration of the operation of Europe’s largest electrolysis plant for the production of pure hydrogen by water electrolysis, with an installed capacity of as much as 5 MW, was the next highlight of the study visit. Company representatives discussed the operation of this recently commissioned plant in detail, together with the importance of hydrogen as an energy carrier in an internally integrated energy management system. Importantly, a hydrogen refuelling station dedicated to both passenger cars and heavy duty hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles will be opened in Gaj Oławski as early as 2025!
A tour of the insides of wind turbines and energy storage facilities
The study visit was also an opportunity to visit the insides of two wind turbines with an installed capacity of up to 3 and 4 MW, which are among the highest in our country. Representatives of the company demonstrated to the visit participants a number of systems operating inside the turbines, including gondolas that allow access to the tops of the masts, as well as inverters and systems that continuously control the operation of the turbines. Thanks to favourable weather conditions, the visit participants were able to see how the amount of electricity extracted from the wind dynamically changes. The values, observed in real time, approached the maximum installed capacity while indicating the total amount of energy harvested to date. Importantly, Promet-Plast representatives also discussed how the cost-effectiveness of this type of installation is shaping up in their case and how, in a short period of time, they have been able to generate significant profits from the integration of systems extracting wind energy and storing it in impressive lithium-ion installations right next door.
Can the integration of RES installations and energy storage be cost-effective in a manufacturing company?
The study visit culminated in two presentations given in a conference room at Promet-Plast’s headquarters. The first was given by Mr Andrzej Jeżewski, CEO of Promet-Plast, who discussed the importance and operating model of internally integrated systems for the acquisition, storage, distribution and use of energy derived exclusively from RES. In this way, the participants of the visit could see that the thoughtful implementation of RES technologies combined with energy storage managed by advanced algorithms enables the stable and highly cost-effective operation of such systems. Mr Jeżewski also presented the company’s development plans, which include the construction of an innovative 212 m high kinetic energy storage facility based on patented technology developed in the in-house R&D department. Finally, the floor was taken by Mr Adam Wąsiewicz, CFO of Promet-Plast, who discussed in detail the financial aspects of the company’s operations, including in particular the public and private sources of financing for the energy transition, which primarily enable the implementation of RES technologies.
Summary and acknowledgements
I am profoundly grateful that Promet-Plast made it possible for me to carry out such a diverse and inspiring study visit. I hope that my students and other members of the academic community will have the opportunity in the future to undertake joint initiatives related to the dissemination of knowledge and good practices in the area of sustainability and energy transition. The visit to Promet-Plast was initiated and prepared by me as part of my original course entitled ‘Energy Transformation in International Business’.
I hope that the event not only provided the participants with valuable information on the implementation of modern RES-based technologies, but also inspired them further to explore the field of sustainability and energy transition using manufacturing companies as examples!
Photo sources: Wrocław University of Economics and Business (https://uew.pl/wizyta-studentow-w-promet-plast-w-gaju-olawskim/)