The last bell for district heating in Poland


District heating in Poland urgently needs to be modernised. Negotiating transitional periods for EU legislation has so far allowed difficult decisions to be postponed. However, the deadlines are running. A comprehensive review of district heating systems is necessary.

With the report "The last bell for district heating in Poland", Forum Energii wants to start a discussion on how to provide Poles with clean heat at a reasonable price in the context of the necessary modernisation of the sector.

What threatens small district heating systems?

There are many reasons why district heating needs to be modernised. Forum Energii has identified and described those that, without remedial action, will cause significant problems for the sector. One of the challenges is that heat is more expensive in poorer towns. In cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants, heat costs consume 4.33% of the disposable income of an average household, and in cities with less than 20,000 inhabitants 5.76%. Smaller heating companies also have greater difficulties with access to capital for investments, and without modernisation, there is a prospect of lack of access to state aid.

Only efficient systems within the meaning of the Energy Efficiency Directive can receive public aid.

In addition, widespread thermomodernization - good for cost reduction and emission reduction - means that demand for heat will decrease. If the fixed costs of district heating systems persist, heat prices may increase. As a result, customers can disconnect from the district heating network in favour of their own heating sources, which can further impair air quality.

These are not the only difficulties that small district heating systems have to face. Forum Energii indicates, for example, barriers related to access to land, which is a result of the complexity of spatial planning regulations. The report also mentions non-compliance with increasingly stricter environmental standards.

What solutions?

According to the authors of the report, the plan to modernise district heating must focus on the problems of smaller towns. Heat consumers inhabiting them will be most strongly affected by regulatory and market challenges. It will also be necessary to change the technology of heat generation. In order to obtain the status of efficient systems, which is a condition for access to public aid, district heating systems must introduce cogeneration or RES. The report also indicates the sources of financing these changes. The money can be obtained from the Modernization Fund, revenues from the sale of CO2 emission allowances under the European Emissions Trading System and from EU and national funds available in the current financial perspective.

Further reports

"The last bell for district heating in Poland" is, first of all, a document defining the problem and presenting initial recommendations. A detailed analysis of the solutions will be the subject of further reports of Forum Energii.

The full text of the report is available only in Polish version. 


Title of the study: "The last bell for district heating in Poland".
Date of publication: October 2017 
Authors: Jan Rączka, Regulatory Assistance Project and Andrzej Rubczyński, Forum Energii


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