Practices presented during the Local Development Forum seminar have proven that energy transformation in Polish cities and towns has to span all areas of our lives, becoming interdisciplinary in nature.

The Association of Polish Cities has organised its sixteenth online seminar forming part of the Local Development Forum “Endogenic Potential Activation as a Condition of Small and Medium-sized City/Town Development in Poland” series. On 18 February, meeting participants discussed energy transformation in Polish cities and towns.

The subject suggested by the Association of Polish Cities has proven extraordinarily attractive – the seminar was attended by over 300 participants, mainly local government officials and municipal authority staff. Energy remains a major urban local governance component not only because the shift from traditional to modern energy produces ecological outcomes – first and foremost, it yields economic effects. Cities and towns are attempting to transform and organise the local energy sector in ways allowing local communities to pay less in electricity charges.

Seminar attendants were reminded that Poland is obliged to deliver European Union energy objectives outlined for the period until the year 2030. As European Union member state, we have committed i.a. to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

Poland’s Energy Policy 2040

On 2 February 2021, the Polish government adopted the “Energy Policy until the Year 2040”. It rests upon three pillars. The first Fair Transformation pillar assumes coal region transformation, reduction in energy poverty, and development of new RES- and nuclear energy-based industry sectors.

A zero-emission energy system is the Policy’s second pillar, basing on offshore wind energy (11 GW by the year 2040), nuclear energy (approximately 6-9 GW), and local and civic energy. Herein, the government assumes an increase in the share of consumers actively participating in the energy market, development of 300 sustainable energy areas, and as many as 1 million prosumers by the year 2030.

Good air quality is the energy Policy’s third pillar. The government has assumed district heating sector transformation: the use of coal will be abandoned in individual heating systems (in urban and rural areas by the years 2030 and 2040, respectively); smokeless fuel will be fully in use by 2040; systemic district heating will evolve in urban areas; by the year 2030, the number of households connected to district heating systems will have grown by 1.5 million. Further effects will be produced by an increase in the number of zero-energy buildings (3 million household heat sources to be replaced and 1,000 low-emission public utility buildings to open by the year 2030), and zero-emission transport: the development of electromobility. It has been assumed that as of the year 2025, zero-emission public transport vehicles will be the only ones purchased by cities with a population over 100,000. From 2030 onwards, public transport will operate zero-emission vehicles only. Furthermore, the government intends to increase the share of RES-based solutions across all sectors and technologies.

Polish Cities and Towns Are Doing it Already

The seminar agenda included a presentation of a number of case studies of Polish cities and towns already tackling energy transformation. Tomasz Bońdos of the Energy Management Team for the City of Bydgoszcz spoke of how the local government has defined and is delivering the concept of a municipality self-sufficient in the field of energy. Paweł Adamów, deputy major of Konin, described a dispersed energy model using the example of the “Green Energy Konin” energy cluster. Representatives of Ostrów Wielkopolski, Inowrocław, Tychy, Słupsk and Pelplin shared their experience, referencing i.a. such issues as electromobility and RES-based public transportation, hybrid solutions in RES-based district heating, and wind energy.