The town of Kisielice in Poland is 100 percent powered by renewable energy! In recognition of its achievement, the town has just been awarded a European Commission ManagEnergy Award 2014 in the self-sufficiency category. The achievement is even more remarkable given that Poland as a whole derives around 90 percent of its energy from coal.
Surrounded by expanses of open farming land, Kisielice now has two wind farms with a total of 48 turbines and an 82 MW capacity. A central heating network has also been built with the financial aid of grants and tax revenues. Fed by a biomass boiler with a 6 MW capacity and that runs on straw, it supplies heat to 85 percent of the town’s buildings. In summer, waste heat from the plant supplies hot water to the town. In December 2013, the town also built its first biogas power plant. This produces one MW of heat and one MW of electricity and is fed by locally grown corn silage.
The town’s project to become energy independent was designed to make the best use of local capacity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the small rural commune of 2,300 people. The town set the goal of abandoning dependence on coal, thereby reducing emissions, improving air quality and making maximum use of local agricultural production capacity. To incentivize the changeover, farmers who have wind farms on their land are paid around 5,000 euros per year for each turbine. Cereal straw that would otherwise go to waste is also bought from local farmers as fuel, providing additional income and helping lower emissions.
A third wind farm with a capacity of 24 MW is now also under construction, and this year the municipality will put out a tender for the purchase and installation of photovoltaic panels for the first solar farm in the region. Each public building will also install three sets of photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 10 kW each. When combined with other initiatives, such as changing to more energy-efficient municipal lighting, the town is certainly well on its way to achieving its twin objectives of energy independence and, through example, encouraging foreign investment in the construction of wind farms in uninhabited rural areas.
Photos by Warmia Wazury