“Capacity building of key stakeholders in the area of geothermal energy” – a significant contribution of the EEA FM Project to enhancing specialist knowledge and supporting the use of geothermal in Poland.

Project Final Conference, 16 April 2024

Final Conference, of the KeyGeothermal” Project was held 16th April 2024 in Warsaw, that is the largest geothermal training project that has been held in Poland. The KeyGeothermal Project stands as a collaborative effort between the Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences (MEERI PAS) and the Icelandic National Energy Authority. The project is financed by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area in the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Programme, 2014–2021, that is operated by the National Fund in Poland and Ministry of Environment in Poland.

We are posting include a report from this Conference and a summary of the Project’s activities presented during it.

The Project

The KeyGeothermal Project’s principal objective was to build the essential Polish stakeholder’s knowledge of optimum use and management of geothermal energy, particularly in low-emission heating. The Project helped to share knowledge, information, and good practices in using geothermal energy in heating. It also allowed for the exchange of opinions among the Project beneficiaries and partners from both countries.

The Project target group consisted of representatives of the geothermal industry developing in Poland, including national and local governments; scientific and research institutions; operators and investors of existing and planned heat plants and other geothermal facilities; geological services; beneficiaries of governmental support programmes for geothermal development in Poland; service providers; consultants; NGOs; and other geothermal entities.

The 43-month Project was split into several groups: training activities in Poland; study visits to Iceland; expert study visits to selected localities in Poland with perspectives for the development of geothermal energy; the report from expert study visits on possible uses of geothermal energy in places chosen in Poland; information and communication, the final report, Project management.

Final conference – program, topics

The first part of the final conference (16 April 2024 in Warsaw) focused on presentations of broader activities of the KeyGeothermal Project and its general background. The speakers were from the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. Keynotes included the implementation of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change EEA FM Programme, 2014–2021 (Piotr Bogusz (EFD Ministry of Climate and Environment); the role of the EEA FM Funds and the KeyGeothermal Project activities for the development of geothermal energy in Poland and bilateral cooperation (Krzysztof Galos Chief National Geologist, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Climate and Environment); geothermal projects in Poland subsidised by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, 2024 (a representative of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management). Jan Henrik, Specialist at the Embassy of Iceland in Poland, represented the Ambassador, Hannes Heimisson, as he could not attend. In a statement from the Ambassador he highlighted among others following, “In today’s complex geopolitical landscape, addressing the challenges of energy security and climate change is crucial. Iceland, the world’s largest per capita producer of green energy, has a century-long history as a pioneer in the use of renewable energy. Its dialogue and knowledge sharing with Poland on these issues has proven to be beneficial for all parties involved.” ,, “Geothermal district heating has the potential to replace a significant proportion of the European Union’s imported energy demand”

Then, the leaders of the IGSMiE PAS and NEA teams summarized the activities and results of the Project (presented in more detail later in the report). They also pointed to the contribution to the objectives of the EEA MF, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Programme, 2014-2021. A large part of the Conference was devoted to panel discussions, during which representatives of the addressees of the Project’s activities, its partners and contractors shared their observations, talked about benefits and usefulness of its actions. There was also a general discussion with the participants of the Project, during which ways of maintaining contacts and cooperation between the participants of the Project were proposed.

The Conference agenda also involved a brief presentation of other geothermal projects subsidised by EEA and Norway Grants (2014-2021 edition) participating Polish teams and Projects by NEA, the partner from the EEA and Norway Grants donor state. Future geothermal projects financed from another Funds edition were discussed. Additionally, further Polish-Icelandic cooperation in geothermal was outlined within the international Geothermica Initiative (with the leading role of the Icelandic Geothermal Cluster).

Exclusive materials were developed for the conference, including a thorough summary, programme, etc.

Files to download

KeyGeothermal EEA FM Project - facts, numbers, achievements

Training activities in Poland

The training activities in Poland in April 2022 and April 2023 hosted a total of 127 participants, plus a few auditing visitors. It should be noted that the number of applicants remarkably outnumbered available places. Each round had two workshop days in Warsaw and a one-day technical visit to several geothermal installations and facilities in the capital region (Mszczonów and Wręcza). The lectures were delivered by 20 speakers from the Icelandic National Energy Authority. MEERI PAS, external experts, and some specialists from the Ministry of Climate and Environment, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prominent speakers included the IcIceland’smbassador to Poland and senior officials from the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. During the technical visits, participants met in-house specialists and representatives of local authorities.

The agenda took into consideration the knowledge gaps previously identified by the Project partners and the needs and proposals put forward by the target group. Lecture synopses and information materials were developed and subsequently used to deliver a comprehensive manual. All the materials are available in an electronic format from the Project website. The manual was also printed.

Participants evaluated the training activities through anonymous questionnaires. The evaluation applied to the essential organisational aspects and content, the role in improving the knowledge of geothermal district heating, EEA Funds, their objectives, impacts and the role of Donor States. Some of the opinions and recommendations presented by the 2022 participants were considered when planning the activities for 2023.

The feedback on the organisation and content of the training activities was highly positive. Thus, they confirmed the grounds for and the need to organise the training activities and the Project.

Study visits to Iceland

Fifty-one Polish participants took part in the study visits to Iceland in September 2022 and 2023 (though the number of candidates was remarkably higher). The agenda included workshops and networking sessions for over 120 people from Poland and Iceland (day one), followed by visits to geothermal heating systems in Reykjavik and southern Iceland (two days). Numerous Icelandic participants during the first day of the visits only prove considerable interest in establishing geothermal cooperation. The event’s significance was highlighted by the eminent speakers, including senior officials from the Icelandic Ministry of Energy, Climate and Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as HE Poland’s Ambassador to Iceland. Visitors saw about 15 geothermal installations for district heating (whose parameters are similar to Polish ones) and for other purposes. They received information materials and a set of presentations made by the Polish and Icelandic parties for seminars, workshops and networking meetings

Just as in the case of the training activities, the participants assessed the visits through surveys. They all appraised the organisation and content of the visits. Numerous positive opinions were expressed, confirming the validity, need and usefulness of organising such Study Visits (and the entire Project) for Polish stakeholders.

Expert Study Visits to selected localities prospective for geothermal development in Poland

The expert study visits arrived at four locations in Poland: Konin and Chochołów (November 2022) and Koluszki and Koło (May/June 2023). The stay in each place took two days. The goal was to learn more about geothermal conditions in the visited sites, learn about the implemented or planned geothermal energy development projects, and collect information and data for the Report on the visits.

The visited venues were selected based on the analysis of their geothermal capabilities, ability to effectively gain and use geothermal energy, progress in their actions, energy, ecology, and other aspects. Also, the will to cooperate with the Project partners and use the obtained research results and recommendations from the detailed Report. Detailed agendas were arranged with hosts in every place. They included the presentation of the heating solution and the overall municipal economy, plans for its development and upgrading, and sustainable development strategies. Moreover, various business perspectives for geothermal applications were discussed. In addition to technical aspects, the visitors became familiar with the history and material and spiritual culture of the places and their neighbourhood. Such factors contributed to building cooperation and mutual cognition of the Project partners’ homelands.

Over 30 people were engaged in the visits in all the places. They were representatives of local governments, specialists and operators of the heating systems, and beneficiaries of programmes supporting the use of geothermal energy for heating. Ten geothermal installations and facilities in various stages of implementation and eight other municipal installations and facilities were presented.

Report from Expert study visits on possibilities of geothermal energy use in selected localities in Poland

The Report on the Expert Study Visits concerning the potential use of geothermal energy in visited localities in Poland was produced in 2022 – 2023 for the visited towns. It contains four parts: Part A. Konin; Part B. Chochołów; Part C. Koluszki; Part D. Koło.

Each part contains the analysis and research results with proposals for the optimum use of geothermal energy for heating and other purposes, increasing energy efficiency, innovative solutions, pilot projects, results of socio-economic analyses, conclusions and recommendations for each town. The report includes the knowledge, methods, experience, and technologies employed by the partners from Iceland, as well as the experiences of the Polish party. They were presented from the perspective of the Project partners – the Reports’ authors – who proposed their consideration and implementation to supplement or extend the existing solutions and projects.

The Report was prepared in cooperation with the representatives of heating companies and local governments. The main results, conclusions and recommendations were presented and discussed during MEERI PAS and NEA team meetings with representatives of the above-mentioned entities. The report is approximately 300 pages long and includes text (summaries, conclusions, and recommendations for each town), figures, and tables. The report was forwarded to the entities for which it had been drawn up.

Representatives of the towns where the Report was prepared find it highly useful for their ongoing geothermal projects and planned works. It should also be helpful for the better management of geothermal energy and water in individual places. That is confirmed by letters addressed to the Project partners and the existing proposals and contracts. They shall be sustained and expanded.

Information and communication

The information and communication activities ran throughout the entire Project term. They included press releases, pamphlets, roll-ups, a website, disseminating materials during domestic and international conferences and other events, and publication of papers in professional journals and popular magazines. Three Project opening and closing events (in 2021 and 2024) were organised. Information about the Project and the role of the EEA FM in supporting the development of geothermal energy was presented during 20 conferences, congresses, and other national and international events – including, among others, World (2023), European (2022), National (2021, 2023) Geothermal Congresses, the Geothermal Round Table – an international event organised by the Geothermica initiative (2023), as well as the World Forum on the Role of Geothermal (2024). About 30 presentations and posters about the Project were presented. Nearly 40 articles, abstracts and press releases were published. By the end of 2023, approximately 2,200 visits to the website Project were recorded.

Participation of the KeyGeothermal Project and the European Economic Area FM in supporting the development of the use of geothermal energy in Poland and Polish-Icelandic cooperation

The KeyGeothermal project was a joint activity of its partners, target group, and many engaged people and entities. It yielded numerous outcomes, helped broaden knowledge in geothermal and learn practical examples and technologies, facilitated the flow of information and experiences, joint research and analyses, contributed to a better understanding of the geothermal sector characteristics in Poland and Iceland, and approach to research and investment. It convinced many people to geothermal and strengthened their motivation to engage in related projects. It also contributed to further progress in cooperation between specialists and institutions from both countries.

According to the participants, the training activities were prepared at an excellent substantive level, and the appropriately selected topics, presented by lecturers with extensive knowledge and practical experience, were found to be highly useful. High-quality information materials (texts, presentations) and the manual were noteworthy. Professional simultaneous interpreting provided by the organisers also contributed to the best understanding. The study visits to Iceland also enjoyed top rankings. Visitors pointed out the extensive programme, the selection of many heating installations with geothermal parameters similar to Polish ones, familiarisation with practical examples that prove the possibility of similar implementations in our country, and facilities that can also inspire Poland. The seminar and networking meetings were also pointed out, as they helped to establish contacts between the Polish and Icelandic parties, with more still to arise.

The Project activities helped broaden, systematise and acquire detailed knowledge of geothermal issues for members of local governments and heating companies not familiar with the geothermal field, as well as for other potential investors interested in geothermal energy. The exchange of experiences among Polish and international experts was of utmost value. The Project partners also indicated significant professional benefits following the opportunity to learn about geothermal conditions, compare the specificity and technology of geothermal heating in Iceland and Poland, and observe and copy some of the solutions used by partners. Other benefits arose from working together on information materials, a manual, reports, and learning about the work and management methods used by partners.

The NEA team noted the geothermal resources base in Poland, which is prospective for use in heating, particularly in district one. They also emphasised the diversity of projects depending on the place of their implementation and thus on the characteristics of the resources themselves and the customer needs. Geothermal heating often requires the combination of various heat sources, as well as low-temperature heating installations. They also noted the generally high technological level of geothermal installations and projects. Some areas require improvement, especially in the sustainable management of the long-term exploitation of geothermal reservoirs.

Partners and experts emphasised that the Project allowed them to share their knowledge and experiences with people who need and will benefit from them. The Icelandic partners were presented with a diligent overview of the energy sector in Poland, including district heating and many activities at various levels to reduce its emissions and introduce renewable energy sources, including geothermal energy. They also learned about modern solutions in the field of municipal management and innovative projects for the development of the power sector.

The project’s achievements are even more noteworthy as it was largely implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic (formally lasting from March 2020 to May 2022), with all the restrictions and difficulties of that period, inflation and other accompanying circumstances. Nevertheless, it was completed with the efforts, determination and commitment of the partners, Program operator, supporting institution, many people and entities, and the decisions of the EEA FM and Norway Grants authorities. It should also be added that some of its effects exceeded the expected levels and indicators.

Specialists from Poland and Iceland look forward to future joint projects, especially since geothermal energy should be among the primary collaboration areas for both countries under the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and Norway Grants, as well as other programmes.

It is worth recalling the beginnings of cooperation between both countries in geothermal projects financed by the EEA FM and Norway Grants. They date back to 2016–2017, when the first three predefined projects were implemented participating teams from Iceland and Poland (one also involved partners from Norway and the European Geothermal Energy Council); www.eeagrants.agh.edu.pl; www.pgi.gov.pl/geothermal4pl. In addition the projects Geothermal Energy Utilisation Potential in Poland – town Poddębice: and Geothermal energy – a basis for low-emission space heating, improving living conditions and sustainable development – preliminary studies for selected areas in Poland were conducted. They paved the way for geothermal in bilateral and regional programmes in the 3rd edition of EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021. There was also the KeyGeothermal Project – a pivotal element in supporting government programmes intended for investments to increase the use of geothermal energy for heating in Poland.

Closing

The Project carried out the most extensive training activities and study visits in geothermal energy addressed to representatives of a broad spectrum of shareholders. It happened during a critical moment for the geothermal industry, at the beginning of its enhanced development, with support from the biggest national and international programmes. It also occurred in the teeth of challenges for local energy security, maintaining socially acceptable energy prices, etc. Nearly 130 trainees in Poland and 51 participants in study visits to Iceland undeniably prove the Project’s significance. Other activities should also be noted, such as expert study visits to selected towns in Poland and reports from these visits. The Project, the EEA FM financing, and the “Energy, Environment and Climate Change” Programme were widely disseminated during prominent global, international and national congresses and conferences for the geothermal sector, as well as in leading periodicals and industry media. A valuable manual and training materials were developed for Project participants and other interested parties.

Diverse Project activities and results also significantly contributed to achieving the objectives of the EEA FM 2014–2021, “Environment, Energy and Climate Change” Programme.

We do hope that the knowledge and experience gained thanks to the Project will contribute to the successful implementation of geothermal initiatives in Polish towns and municipalities. We are also satisfied that the Project facilitated closer cooperation between municipalities, towns, and companies in Poland and Iceland. That highlights the critical role of similar subsequent projects in strengthening further long-term collaboration between our countries.


Beata Kępińska, Aleksandra Kasztelewicz, Magdalena Tyszer (Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences), Baldur Pétursson (National Energy Authority of Iceland)

Events

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Project partners

Wspólnie działamy na rzecz Europy zielonej, konkurencyjnejsprzyjającej integracji społecznej

Projekt KeyGeothermal jest dofinansowany ze środków Mechanizmu Finansowego EOG na lata 2014–2021
Program „Środowisko, Energia i Zmiany klimatu”, Obszar programowy „Energia” Polska.

Operatorzy Programu: Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska, NFOŚiGW

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