A small Polish community has won the European Commission’s ManagEnergy Award 2014, the top prize for outstanding local and regional sustainable energy projects.
The town of Kisielice and Mayor Tomasz Koprowiak received the Award for their project, Energy self-sufficient Commune of Kisielice, which aims at reducing emissions, abandoning dependence on coal, improving air quality and becoming energy independent.
The community uses primarily biomass and wind energy and to seize the potential of its local agriculture.
Kisielice has a large amount agricultural land and is not densely populated, which allows an abundance of wind turbines on its more remote farmland. Foreign investment made it possible to install over 50 wind turbines with a total capacity of 94.5 MW, with farmers receiving a yearly remuneration for the turbines on their land.
A six-megawatt biomass boiler plant was also installed in the community, running off cereal straw purchased from local farmers. The biomass generator alone reached it reaches 85 per cent of the community’s buildings. A national loan, as well as the community and a small grant initially financed the project.
The community organised meetings with citizens for two years, discussing the economic and environmental benefits, including cheap thermal energy, reduced air pollution and the use of agricultural surpluses.
According to Mayor Koprowiak, “our project is the work of many people for many years” and “the ManagEnergy Award is one for all the residents of the Kisielice community”
“We have a strategy for our community to develop in this way, to become energy self-sufficient. This European Commission’s Award confirms that we have taken the right path.”
Project coordinator, Marcin Duda of energy agency PRAZE, said that the project is unique, “our commune is one of the first places in Poland where wind farms, biomass boiler plants and biogas plants were built, making Kisielice one of the leaders in renewable energy sources in the country.”
With its yearly award, ManagEnergy promotes municipalities that successfully contribute to reaching the EU’s 2020 targets for energy and climate.
Kisielice will continue on the path towards energy independence. A third wind farm of 24 MW is currently under construction and already partly in operation. Later this year, the town will announce a tender for the purchase and installation of the region’s first solar photovoltaic plant.