With a land area of 311,904km2, Poland has a population of 38.7M (1998). The country’s principal rivers are Wisla with a catchment area of 194,000km2; and Odra with a catchment area of 118,000km2. Ninety percent of the above catchment areas are on polish territory. Total mean precipitation volume is 190km3/yr and the total mean run-off is 59km3/yr.
The majority (75.1%) of the land area does not exceed the altitude of 200m, submontane regions (200-500m) cover 21.8% of the land area and only 3.1% are mountains higher then 500m.
So only 1.5% of electricity is produced by pure hydro power plants. The majority (60%) comes from coal and the rest (40%) from lignite stations.
There are 110 storage reservoirs, 37 dams (25 earth dams and 12 gravity dams) higher then 15m in operation. The largest, Solina dam, is 82m high.
Three dams with the height >15m are in construction. There are 31 dams 5-15m high which are currently in operation.
The total storage capacity of all polish reservoirs is about 3.5km3 ie only 6% of the annual mean run-off.
The theoretical gross hydro power potential of polish rivers is about 25,000GWh/yr, one half of it is technically feasible and 7000GWh/yr economically feasible.
The production of pure hydro plants is about 2100GWh/yr, the total capacity (including small and mini hydro) 600MW.
Three pure pumping storage plants and three mixed (pure hydro and pumping) with a pumping capacity of 1660MW, pump yearly 2800GWh and produce about 2100GWh.
The largest pure hydro plant is Wloclawek on the Vistula with 162MW. Greatest pure pumping storage plants are Zarnowiec (800MW) and Porabka-Zar (550MW).
The total annual production of electricity in Poland is about 140,000GWh and the capacity of all plants is 34,000MW.
Twelve hydro power plants (including the three pumping schemes and mixed plants above) have a capacity above 10MW.
About 470 small hydro power plants designed in Poland as < 5MW with a total capacity of 130MW produce about 200GWh yearly. The majority of them have a capacity smaller then 1MW.
Three goals for new dam and reservoir projects are:
•Creating new flood control storage reservoirs in the upper parts of the river basins of Odra (e.g. Raciborz and Kamieniec) and Vistula (Krepna) rivers after the catastrophic flood of July 1997.
•Small river storage restoration for ameliorating the agrarian soil-water conditions and for local floods control.
•Constructing dams (weirs) with run-off hydro plants to tame the scouring effects of the river bed: ie. Nieszawa downstream of the existing Wloclawek dam on the Vistula and Malczyce downstream of the Brzeg Dolny weir on the Odra river.
The realisation of these projects may be delayed due to economic state of the country and (especially in the case of the Nieszawa dam on Vistula river) by the activity of anti-dam organisations.
The above projects essentially solve water management problems and provide simultaneous hydro power utilisation.
The uprating and refurbishment of existing structures and power plants will also continue, taking into account their age. Some objects are nearly one century old.