Renewable energy continues to play a subordinate role in Poland, while coal remains the most important primary energy source. This results in high carbon emissions and places a huge burden on both people and the environment.
The aim of the Stargard Geothermal District Heating Project, which is being implemented as a Joint Implementation activity, is to reduce Poland’s carbon emissions through the use of geothermal heat. The project provides for the construction of a geothermal district heating plant with a capacity of 14 MWt near the Polish city of Stargard in West Pomerania. The geothermal heat extracted is fed into the existing district heating grid and replaces 36 percent of the heat which up to now has been generated solely through the use of a carbon-intensive coal-fired heating plant. Two new facilities were built close to the existing plant: a subterranean plant which extracts geothermal heat from a depth of 2,672 meters, and a building in which the heat exchanger, the electrical equipment and the control panel are located.
Apart from reducing carbon emissions, the project will have other positive effects which will benefit the local population. Less use of coal will improve air quality in the region due to a reduction in the concentration of sulphur dioxide, fine particles and nitrous gases. It will also significantly reduce the environmental burden caused by the storage and transport of coal and the disposal of ash.
The city of Stargard currently has a functional district heating system which covers over 60 percent of the city’s heat demand and provides its people with heating and hot water. The entire heat supply was previously generated in a coal-fired heating plant with a capacity of 116 MWt. This means the boilers have sufficient capacity to cover all immediate energy needs, which is why neither decommissioning the existing plant nor upgrading its capacity can be expected in the near future. Rather, continued operation of the existing coal-fired heating plant is anticipated because this is the most cost-effective option. Use of alternative technologies such as heating with biomass and the use of combined heat and power plants appears highly unlikely. If the coal-fired plant continues in operation, annual carbon emissions of approximately 106,204 tCO2e can be expected. These are compared with annual emissions amounting to 69,967 tCO2e under the project, which also include the carbon emissions from the operation of the electric pump used to extract the geothermal heat. The project thus achieves emission reductions to the tune of 36,237 tCO2e/yr.
To ensure that the expected emission reductions are actually achieved, a range of factors must be monitored throughout the project lifecycle. A key factor in this regard is the geothermal heat fed into the district heating grid because this shows the amount of coal saved in the process. Further, the plant’s electricity and coal consumption must be monitored as these also flow into the emission reduction calculations.
Following the positive review of the project by Det Norkse Veritas at the start of 2005, Geothermia Stargard received approval for the project from the Polish government in October of the same year. In February 2010, the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) approved RWE Power AG’s involvement in the project.
RWE Power has a 2.78 percent stake in the project via the Prototype Carbon Fund. The fund, which conducts emission reduction projects, was established by the World Bank in 1999. Financing is provided by 17 private companies and six national governments. Once the project is completed, the carbon credits it generates will be divided proportionally among the investors. The project lifecycle was set to 5 years and ended at 31 December 2012. During this time the Geothermia Stargard project avoided verifiably more than 181 tCO2e or 36 tCO2e a year.
Poland: Geothermia Stargard
Germany: RWE Power AG
Stargard Szczeciński, Poland
1 January 2008 – 31 December 2012
Registered and implemented
RWE Power AG
Tel.: +49 (0) 201 1228195