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Polish Town Rejects Coal, Seeks Energy Independence

Clare Taylor's picture
Senior communications consultant, Freelance

I am a communicator specialised in energy and environment. I love writing, editing, and publishing, and I am an experienced rapporteur and moderator with a decade's experience of working in...

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  • Sep 6, 2014
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poland and renewables

This summer, the community of Kisielice won the European Commission’s ManagEnergy Award 2014, the top prize for outstanding local and regional sustainable energy projects. Mayor Tomasz Koprowiak received the Award during the EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels.  Kisielice, a small community in the province of Warmia-Mazury, is a pioneer of local sustainable energy – setting an example for other communities in Poland and across Europe.

The town’s project ‘Energy self-sufficient Commune of Kisielice’ aims at reducing emissions, abandoning dependence on coal, improving air quality and ultimately to become energy independent. To reach these objectives, the town has decided to deploy biomass and wind energy and to seize the potential of its local agriculture.

A rural community, Kisielice has a lot of agricultural land and is not densely populated, which allows it to locate wind turbines on its more remote farm lands. Foreign investments made it possible to install over 50 wind turbines with a total capacity of 94,5 MW, with farmers receiving a yearly remuneration for the turbines on their land.

To supplement the wind turbines, a 6 megawatt biomass boiler plant was installed that runs on cereal straw purchased from local farmers, providing them with an additional income. Connected with a district heating network, it reaches 85% of the community’s buildings. Implemented in stages, the network was initially financed by a national loan, the community budget and a small grant. Tax revenues from the wind farm and European Regional Development Fund grants funded the expansion of the network.  

Awareness-raising among residents is another key component of the project. For two years, the municipality has organised meetings with citizens to convince them of the economic and environmental benefits, including cheap thermal energy, reduced air pollution and the use of agricultural surpluses.

‘Our project is the work of many people for many years’, Mayor Tomasz Koprowiak emphasised after receiving the Award. ‘We have a strategy for our community to develop in this way, to become energy self-sufficient. This European Commission’s Award confirms that we have taken the right path.’ The town received many congratulations, coming from Poland and beyond.

Jury member Fiona Harvey praises the project for its variety of technologies, including renewable energy. This makes Kisielice unique, says project coordinator Marcin Duda of energy agency PRAZE. ‘Our commune is one of the first places in Poland where wind farms, biomass boiler plants and biogas plants were built, making Kisielice one of the leaders in renewable energy sources in the country.’

Fiona Harvey speaks highly of the wide support that the project receives from the community. ‘This is a shining example of what people can do when they get together, when they work across a community.’ She hopes that the example of Kisielice will be followed. ‘We hope that this shining example will encourage other communities in the region, in Poland and across the EU to take up this challenge and to do what this community has done.’

With its yearly Award, ManagEnergy promotes municipalities like Kisielice that successfully contribute to reaching the EU’s 2020 targets for energy and climate. ManagEnergy publishes the Annual Good Practices Brochure and news from local and regional sustainable energy projects across Europe. ManagEnergy also organises capacity building workshops and networking meetings on topics like project financing, funding opportunities and best practices.

‘The ManagEnergy Award’, Mayor Koprowiak says, ‘is one for all the residents of the Kisielice community’. Together as a community, Kisielice will continue on the path towards energy independence. A third wind farm of 24 MW is under construction and already partly in operation. Later this year, the town will announce a tender for the purchase and installation of the region’s first photovoltaic plant.

Local authorities and communities are uniquely positioned to coordinate the fight against climate change and secure a clean energy future for all. Learn more at www.managenergy.net.

Photo Credit: Poland and Energy Sources/shutterstock

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