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Renewable Power-to-Heat Hajnówka


While, according to figures provided by EAA, the greenhouse gas intensity of electricity production has been significantly reduced both in Europe and specifically in Poland, the country that, together with Greece and Estonia had the highest intensity in 2010, no similar progress can be identified for the heating sector. Our project addresses this problem in a pilot region in East Poland by proposing an innovative solution that will have a substantial impact on decarbonisation while driving the energy system integration forward: renewable power to heat. The idea is to develop an energy concept that shows how excess electricity from regional wind and solar power installations can be used for substituting coal in the existing district heating system in Hajnówka (district and city). The concept shall serve as feasibility and realisation plan for the development of completely renewed and nearly fully decarbonised integrated district heating system in this region. 

With according to the Polish National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) 61% of households connected to district heatings in (semi-)urban areas such as the city of Hajnówka with the surrounding district, there is a huge potential for renewable energies to be integrated. District heating networks are of particular importance for a rapid decarbonisation, which, on the other hand, presumes fundamental economic and technological changes – including solutions that combine different technologies (such as p2h with biomass-based boosters), new heating business cases, changes of the tariff policy, a better market and grid access for renewable energies. In its NECP Poland has identified these challenges and prioritized solutions. However, practical knowledge about how to best design projects that aim at making district heating networks fit for renewables is limited in Poland. In the targeted region of the Hajnówka district, several pre-projects that invested in capacity building and political awareness building have paved the way to position the district as pioneer with an innovative power-to-heat-project that will have a lighthouse effect for similar projects in Poland and beyond. 

The project aims at providing a basis for public and private investments, and there is a good chance that money from the European Recovery Fund can be activated for realising the decarbonisation of the district heating system in the Powiat Hajnówka. There is also a good chance that the example of Hajnówka will have a lighthouse effect, reaching awareness as best practice certainly in Poland, given the good fit to the NECP, but also in other EU member states. 

Status Quo 

The current district heating system in Hajnówka relies heavily on a central coal firing plant and is operating at a high temperature level (130 degrees Celsius). The main heat source is operated by a regional company specialised in coal, oil and biomass heating, while the network is operated by a local company owned by the city, which also operates as the seller of heat to final customers. Naturally, this district heating system is highly CO2-intensive, also due to the fact that poor-quality coal serves as the main fuel in the coal firing plant.  

The district of Hajnówka bears a massive potential for RES deployment, especially for Wind power and PV. While this potential today remains unexploited, the current Polish regulation, after a period of stagnation and investment insecurity, is paving the way for the installation of renewable electricity installations in the region.  

The city of Hajnówka is located on the edge of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve of the Białowieża National Park. This park is one of the last natural primeval forests in Europe. The national park is also home to bison. All specimens living in the world can be traced back to this region. 

The decarbonisation of the heating sector and the resulting elimination of harmful taxes will ensure the preservation of the primeval forest for future generations.

100 percent renewable foundation, suited in Berlin (Germany), will coordinate the main project with its Polish partner, the district (powiat) of Hajnówka.