We continue our Geothermal Country Overview blog series with a feature on Poland.
Poland is one of the central European countries with relatively high geothermal potential as well as strong interests from the government as well as local authorities. The country has only low-enthalpy resources, connected in most cases with the Mesozoic sedimentary formations. Six geothermal district heating plants are currently in operation in Poland i.e. Podhale region since 1994, Pyrzyce since 1996, Mszczonów since 2000, Uniejów since 2001, Poddębice since 2012 and Stargard since 2012, with a total installed capacity of 76 MWth and heat production of 227 GWh. The most attractive direct applications of geothermal energy in Poland are space heating, balneotherapy, recreational, aquaculture and other minor uses. Geothermal waters with temperatures ranging from 20 to 100°C and flow rate of up to 150 l/s are being produced from geothermal wells with final depths between 1 to 3 km. Most of the deep geothermal installations are based on doublet systems, with an exception of wells in Mszczonów and Poddębice district heating plants, where thermal water mineralization is below 500 mg/l. Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) industry, established in Poland several years ago, is in constant development and experienced immense progress since 2013, with 500 MWth installed capacity and 714 GMh of heat production as for 2015.
Fig. 1. The wellhead of a geothermal well in southern Poland in Podhale area (source: geotermia.pl)
Poland is the motherland of the petroleum industry, wherein 1853 first oil well was drilled in Bóbrka (southern Poland) municipality, near Krosno and year later first oil refinery was established. In 1900, Poland was the third-biggest oil producer in the world. Currently, many of these oil and natural gas wells are abandoned and in a great majority of cases located nearby residential or industrial areas. This creates a perfect opportunity to extract geothermal heat from already drilled petroleum wells. The first project of such kind was attempted in Sucha Beskidzka (southern Poland), where Jachówka-2K well, primarily created for oil production, was drilled to a final depth of approximately 4.3 km. Only small volumes of natural gas were discovered and well was reconstructed for a borehole heat exchanger. Due to the poor insulation of the inner column, the project did not achieve satisfactory results. Currently, research works are ongoing in order to improve the insulation properties of the inner column and increase the efficiency of borehole heat exchangers. In the future, such technology, which currently is being looked at in countries such as Canada, might provide a great deal of renewable heat to polish inhabitants and help to significantly improve air quality, which has become a major problem in southern Poland in recent years.
Fig.2. Geothermal energy sources in Poland (Tomaszewska et al., 2018)
Poland has also contributed to many European programs on various geothermal aspects from shallow to deep geothermal, in order to exchange experience and learn from other, more advanced in geothermal heat and electricity production technology countries such as Iceland. The outcome of such projects enabled the polish geothermal industry to develop and draw wider attention of the public. The progress in the heat pump industry is scheduled to continue in the very near future in Poland with bigger scale projects, with multiple borehole heat exchanger installations, as well as smaller-scale investments in private housing. As it was mentioned before, Poland has also great potential for lunching first geothermal power generation plants in areas such as Koło or Szaflary. Consolidation of programs supporting developments of the geothermal energy industry in Poland is the objective of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (i.e. NFOŚiGW), which recently came out with the “Polish Geothermal Plus” (pol.: “Polska Geotermia Plus”) program. Its main objective is an increase in the usage of various types of geothermal resources across Poland. The direct motives of the program are results of scientific research on the geothermal potential in Poland throughout recent years. The amount of allocations for returnable and non-returnable forms of subventions is 600 000 000 PLN (140 mln EUR), including up to 300 000 PLN (70 mln EUR) for non-returnable forms of subventions, and another 300 000 PLN (70 mln EUR) for returnable forms of subventions.
This concludes another Geothermal Country Overview from our #GeothermalFactsandStats blog. For more information please refer to our reference articles below and follow us on all major social media platforms.
Author: Michal Kruszewski