Like they do in Iceland
Prof. Mariusz Orion Jędrysek, Deputy Minister for the Environment, explains to the Poland.pl portal that our country can learn from Iceland in how to manage and apply available energy resources.
Poland.pl: Witold Waszczykowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visits the Republic of Iceland. This is a country where geology is present wherever you go - geothermal resources are the essential source of energy and geotourism is a prodigiously growing branch of the economy. What significance does this visit have for you – as Chief National Geologist and the Government Plenipotentiary for Raw Material Policy?
Prof. Mariusz Orion Jędrysek: Probably each geologist in the world dreams to visit Iceland. Excaptive “fresh” geology is present at every step in this country, so everyone must notice it. The geological processes that shape this island, such as volcanism and earthquakes, are a part of everyday life in Iceland. On one hand, it’s a natural geohazard but on the other hand, they are the wealth of this country. Their widespread use of the heat of the Earth as a source of clean and cheap energy should be a model worth pursuing for us and for other countries. The ability to exploit the potential of tourism, the beauty of nature determined by the geological structure but also the man-made geothermal installations such as geothermal district heating systems, geothermal electrical plans, the unique Blue Lagoon SPA and restaurants set up in greenhouses, where vegetables grow, is testimony of the great inventiveness of the Icelanders. I am very pleased with the visit of Minister Waszczykowski and I hope to deepen already very good bilateral relations, both on the working and the political level. In our relations with our Icelandic partners, the support of Polish diplomacy is extremely helpful. In April this year a Polish delegation led by Marcin Mazurowski of representatives of the Ministry of the Environment, National Fund for Environmental Protection & Water Management, the Mineral & Energy Economy Research Institute at the Polish Academy of Science and the local government and geothermal company from Poddębice in the Lódź province visited Iceland as part of the EEA/NG Polish-Iceland project coordinated by Prof. Beata Kępińska from PAS. The presence and support of Ambassador Lech Mastalerz had a positive influence on the level and results of the meeting.
You are talking about working visits, does this mean that cooperation with Iceland on geotermy is ongoing?
Contacts and cooperation on geothermal matters between Polish and Icelandic institutions and individual persons have been ongoing for more than 25 years. Between 1991 and 2003, 14 Polish fellows graduated from the UNU Geothermal Training Programme in Iceland. This was the largest group from European states. The Training was possible thanks to the fellowships from the Icelandic government and UNU. They came from the Polish Academy of Sciences, AGH - University of Science & Technology, Silesian University and the Technical University in Szczecin. Several of these persons belong to the leaders of the geothermal sector in Poland. All the more – one of the graduates (Beata Kepinska from the Polish Academy of Science, now the chairperson of the Polish Geothermal Society) was invited as a visiting lecturer at that prestigious Training Programme and cooperated with Icelandic experts.
Moreover - for some years approx. 20 MSc. students attended the RES School in Akureyri, thanks to EU funds. For several years individuals from both sides (in Poland – from MEERI PAS, AGH-UST, Polish Geothermal Society) were consistently involved (even despite not favourable conditions) in initiating co-operation and introducing geothermal into the scope of EEA/NG mechanisms for Poland.
One can also note good personal relations, and cooperation of some Icelandic and Polish experts within international organisations and some international projects. These factors form a solid basis for regular cooperation to the benefit of geothermal development in Poland.
On the ministerial side we are also involved in starting regular cooperation.
Both sides are very motivated to strengthen geothermal cooperation and push it forward in a more dynamic and concrete way. This will greatly contribute to building public awareness, applying modern and proven technologies, transferring best practices, making use of available international funds – including EEA and Norway Grants – where Iceland is one of the donor states. Especially now when geothermal energy is among the priorities of the Polish government.
We should also note that many Polish citizens are working in Iceland in several sectors, also those related to geothermal energy. Their experience and skills could be used after they return to Poland and when they are given the opportunity to work in geothermal installations in our country.
Are there any Polish–Icelandic geothermal projects ongoing now?
Within the framework of EEA/NFM grants in 2016-2017 a first Polish–Icelandic “geothermal” project was conducted titled Geothermal Utilisation Potential in Poland. Poddebice Town. It was carried out by partners from the National Energy Agency in Iceland and – on the Polish side – by the Mineral & Energy Economy Research Institute of PAS, AGH – University of Science & Technology, Geotermia Poddebice and Poddebice Town. This well-implemented project paves the way for wider cooperation in geothermal – especially given that Iceland will enter more geothermally-oriented projects in Poland being one of the donor states of these funds. This is already a case with other Central European states – Hungary and Romania.
Both our sides are about to start the second project within the framework of EEA/NFM funds titled Geothermal Energy. A Basis for Low-Emission Space Heating, Improving Living Conditions & Sustainable Development. Pre-feasibility Studies for Selected Areas in Poland. The core partners will be these same as in the previous project and they will be joined by partners from Norway, Wrocław Technical University and four selected study case towns in Poland. The project leader will be the MEERI PAS. We expect that this project will widely open the doors for next projects and cooperation between our countries.
What is the geothermal potential in Poland in general and for what purposes can it be applied?
Poland has geothermal energy potential prospective for many uses. This potential is connected with ground waters with the temperatures ranging from 20⁰C to about 100⁰C. They can be used – as a local, and environmentally friendly energy resource - on a wider scale than now. Of particular significance our are plans to develop the space heating sector, as well as agriculture, aquaculture, health treatment, recreation. All these uses would bring many benefits – like in Iceland - low-emission heating, improvement of living conditions, and, in many cases - sustainable innovative local and regional development since geothermal often forms an “axis” for it.
What is the current state of geothermal energy uses in Poland?
Geothermal uses in Poland are at an early stage of development so far as only six geothermal district heating systems have been activated. They result in comfort of use, ecological effects, better living conditions. Also heat prices are competitive with those from gas (and even with coal in some cases).
The heating sector will be a priority for geothermal deployment in Poland. We also have about 12 “geothermal” health resorts and about 15 recreation centres (and several others under construction – this is quite a dynamically developing sector). There are also some other individual uses, such as large salmon farms using geothermal water and heat.
The Polish government introduced the tools to enhance geothermal energy development for energetic uses. What are the main ones?
In 2016 the Polish government introduced economic support tools to enhance geothermal energy development especially for heating (eg. support for drilling the wells, heating infrastructure). In this year as the Chief National Geologist, I accepted five geothermal drillings with up to 100% support from the geological sub-fund of the National Fund for Environmental Protection & Water Management (approximately 30 million Euro).
Coming back to the visit of the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs – how can Icelandic experience and success be applied to geothermal cooperation between our countries?
For proper long-term development of the geothermal sector in Poland one has to collaborate with the best experts from other countries – Iceland is number one among them. Therefore, more active cooperation with Iceland would greatly contribute to building public awareness in Poland, applying proven technologies, transferring best practices, and - making use of available international funds – including EEA and Norway Grants where Iceland is one of the donor states. As the main areas for Icelandic-Polish cooperation in the geothermal sector one should point to specialised education and training, technical assistance and consulting, as well as innovation and investment projects.
Also worth mentioning is that Poland can learn from Iceland in how to manage and apply available energy resources – for sustainable prosperous development. The Icelandic approach in these areas can be useful also in view of the Responsible Development Strategy for Poland, which was introduced this year.
PROF. MARIUSZ ORION JĘDRYSEK, PhD
Secretary of State, Deputy Minister for the Environment, Chief National Geologist and the Government Plenipotentiary for Raw Material Policy.
He graduated from the geology and tectonics branches in the University in Wroclaw in 1985 and then started to work on the State Geological Survey of Poland. In 1989 he received his PhD in the Institute of Geological Sciences, University Wroclaw and was appointed as Associate Professor in the same university. In 1999, after the habilitation, he was appointed as Professor and then in 2004 as a Full Professor, the highest possible position in science in Poland. In 2006 and 2016 he was elected as the President of the Council of the International Seabed Authority.