A new series of Training Activities took place in Warsaw between 25 and 27 April this year on the “Optimal use of geothermal energy for district heating to improve economic, social, environmental and climate benefits”. The event was a part of the “Capacity building of key stakeholders in the area of geothermal energy” Project. It is one of the three pre-defined projects financed by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism (EEA FM) under the “Environment, Energy and Climate Change” 2014 – 2021 Programme. The Project is implemented by the Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the National Energy Authority of Iceland. It started in October 2020 and will last until April 2024. The first series of Training Activities was held in May 2022. In September 2022, the Project participants travelled to Iceland for a study visit 2022; two months later, expert visits were organised to Polish towns prospective for geothermal energy use for heating. Similarly to 2022, the Training Activities covered two days of lectures in Warsaw and one day of technical visits to geothermal facilities in Mszczonów and Wręcza.
The on-site event’s agenda was developed by Polish and Icelandic specialists. It included a broad range of geothermal heating-related topics (https://keygeothermal.pl/szkolenia-i-wizyty-studyjne/warsztaty-szkoleniowe-w-polsce/). The lectures were delivered by specialists from the NEA, MEERI PAS, Ministry of Climate and Environment, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and third-party experts.
Representatives of the visited towns and facilities helped develop the technical visits programme (https://keygeothermal.pl/szkolenia-i-wizyty-studyjne/warsztaty-szkoleniowe-w-polsce/). A geothermal heating plant in Mszczonów, geothermal wells (Mszczonów IG-1 – operating for over 20 years and Mszczonów GT-1 – new well completed at the beginning of 2023) and the Deep Spot Diving Centre (one of the deepest diving pools in the world) were among the technical visit sites. Moreover, the participants could learn more about selected systems at Suntago Park of Poland in Wręcza (one of the largest leisure centres in Europe supplied with geothermal water and energy). An inspiring meeting with the Mayor of Mszczonów, the Deputy Mayor of Sochaczew (the town intends to include geothermal energy in its district heating system) and the CEO of Geotermia Mazowiecka S.A. opened the study visits. In addition, the representatives of the referenced facilities’ boards shared plenty of information and technical explanations during the site visits.
The group participating in the Training Activities consisted of over eighty persons (two rounds of activities combined). They were beneficiaries of the government support schemes for the geothermal, district heating companies, various levels of local authorities, energy companies and agencies, geological services, universities and students of RES-related faculties, consulting and service companies, residential building sector, Ministry of Climate and Environment, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and other stakeholders. The presence of the Deputy President of the National Fund for Environmental Protection, representatives of the Chief State Geologist, managers from some departments of the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasised the significance of the Training Activities (and the whole Project). The Ambassador of Iceland to Poland was the honorary guest of the Training Activities. The Ambassador highlighted the opportunities and expectations that Iceland (as one of the EEA FM Donor States) and Poland assign to geothermal as one of the key cooperation areas between the countries.
It is worth highlighting that similarly to 2022, this year’s Training Activities were also very popular (there were twice more applications than places available). The total number of Training Activities’ participants amounted to ca. 120 persons (2022 and 2023 activities together).
The participants received the Project training materials (abstracts and presentations) and a comprehensive manual. They will soon be available for a broader group of stakeholders.
According to many participants, the Training Activities’ agenda was multi-faceted and practical, highlighting and explaining many aspects and issues related to geothermal district heating. It is significant now when some projects are being executed, and new ones will soon commence. This way, the Training Activities responded to the urgent need to supplement and extend knowledge of geothermal district heating among Polish stakeholders and to provide information about project implementation and appropriate use of geothermal systems during many years of their operation.
Icelandic specialists appreciated Polish facilities, experiences and solutions. A high level of the event’s content was also emphasised; the participants were engaged in discussions, asking questions, establishing contacts and exchanging opinions.
The Training Activities provided opportunities to exchange experiences and information on district heating and other geothermal uses between the Polish and Icelandic parties and to tighten cooperation and mutual contacts, which is among the core objectives of the Project and Environment, Energy and Climate Change, 2014 – 2021 EEA FM Programme.
Learning specific examples of geothermal district heating and other geothermal applications in Iceland, aspects related to the state’s role, significance for local communities, economic development, and alleviating climate change will be the focus points of the study visit to Iceland, marking another activity area under the “KeyGeothermal” EEA Project scheduled for autumn 2023.
Positive opinions from the Training Activities’ participants and the Environment, Energy and Climate Change EEA FM Programme operator representatives confirm the validity of the KeyGeothermal Project and motivate its partners for further work. Furthermore, one shall not underestimate bringing together different milieus around geothermal district heating, sharing knowledge, and exchanging opinions and experiences, which was possible owing to the lectures and technical visits. This way, the Project contributes to developing collaboration and establishing new contacts.
The Project partners would like to thank all persons and institutions involved in organising the Training Activities under the EEA FM Project called “Capacity building of key stakeholders in the area of geothermal energy” for their contribution to preparing the agenda, training materials and the manual, delivering lectures and for any other forms of support. Words of thanks also go to the event participants. Successful Training Activities result from positive collaboration and engagement of many persons and institutions.
Beata Kępińska, Aleksandra Kasztelewicz, Maciej Miecznik (MEERI PAS)
Baldur Petursson (NEA)