Poland: Geothermal energy on the advance
Poland has rich resources of geothermal energy. However, its growth and development meets many obstacles, including too many and too high charges and taxes.
Polish geothermal energy resources consist primarily of underground waters with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 130°C and located at the depth of three to four kilometers. For several centuries these waters have already been used for curative purposes in the spas of Lądek Zdrój, Cieplice, Duszniki, Ciechocinek, Konstancin, Ustroń and Iwonicz. In the 1990s, geothermal energy began to be used for heating purposes as well as on a semi-technical scale in agriculture and fish-farming. Operating in Poland right now are six geothermal plants. These are situated in Podhale, Pyrzyce, Mszczonów, Słomniki, Uniejów and Stargard Szczeciński. More heating and recreational installations are in the blueprints. There are great chances that geothermal energy resources would be developed in many other places in the country. These would be used mainly for heating as well as for recreational and curative purposes. Interest is growing in binary electricity generation systems. The chance for developing geothermal energy lies in adjusting already existing bore-holes for water and heat exploitation. However, despite official assurances that the share of renewable energy would be increased, the development of geothermal energy has met serious obstacles, notably high charges for the right to extract geothermal waters. These barriers should be removed. If that is done, geothermal energy will be more widely used and that with benefit the country’s natural environment and energy security.
The launch of a geothermal heating plant in Mszczonów allowed for the closure of three urban coal-fired boiler plants which each year emitted into the atmosphere 15 tons of nitrogen compounds, 60 tons of sulphur compounds, 9.7 tons of carbon dioxide and 145 tons of dust. The plant built at the cost of 11 million zloty uses geothermal waters from the depth of 1700 meters. The 42°C temperature of the water allows effective heating of the town until air temperatures fall down below minus 5°C. Then a clean gas-fired boiler plant takes over. The geothermal plant in Mszczonów is unique in that the fresh water resources used for heating are subsequently used as potable water.
GEOTHERMAL HEAT AND POWER GENERATING PLANT
Poland’s first geothermal heat and power generating plant is under construction in Uniejów near Łódź. For five years now the rich geothermal resources there are used by the local Geotermia Uniejów heating plant to heat 65% of the town inhabited by 3,200 people. The Uniejów water resources have a temperature of about 68°C. That is enough to heat houses for as long as outside temperatures do not drop below 2°C. If it is colder, the water has to be heated up to about 110°C by a boiler plant fuelled by biomass. This is the only system in Poland in which two renewable energy sources – geothermal water and biomass – are used to generate heat.
The heating plant is being developed into a one-megawatt-capacity heat and power generating plant along that line to supply at least half of Uniejów with electricity and heating. The emission of toxic gases and dust will be greatly reduced. That will definitely improve the microclimate in the area. Map of Poland’s thermal flux (Szewczyk, Gientka, 2007). Biggest prospects for obtaining geothermal energy are in areas (marked red) with increased flux values. (Polish Market, Poland)
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