Within the ENTRAIN project, the aim of which is to increase competence of public authorities in the field of elaboration and implementation of local strategies and plans for development of small heating systems, using renewable energy sources, a survey among representatives of heating companies has been conducted. The aim of the survey was to determine the condition of district heating in Poland, therefore the questions concerned among others the most important barriers of its development, needed legal changes or necessary forms of financial support.

Among the main obstacles to development of the heating sector, including growth in use of locally available renewable energy sources (RES), representatives of heating companies have mentioned barriers related to the economic and legal situation, such as: high costs of constructing RES heat sources, lack of investment funds, unstable economy, unstable tax policy, inflation, rapid growth of fuel prices, lack of funds for investments in other RES sources and stable financing conditions, as well as possibilities to determine the profitability of this type of investments and long time of waiting for signing the agreement on subsidies for modernisation of heat sources. The respondents have also pointed to problems with energy storage, examples of technological barriers or lack of available large-scale RES technologies, as well as inability to obtain binding declarations from potential biomass suppliers.

Proposals for regulatory/legal changes that would help remove these barriers included changes to the energy and construction law and simplification of formal and legal procedures, e.g. by removing provisions on the need to carry out public consultations when building new sources of heat from RES, unblocking the possibility to build wind power plants on land or simplifying the procedure for obtaining emission and integrated permits. According to representatives of heating companies, there is also a need for changes in the tariff regulation so that the way energy prices are regulated allows for full coverage of current production costs, keeping up with the volatility of fuel and emission allowance markets.

Necessary forms of financial support included grants at 85% of eligible costs, preferential loans that could also be secured by an entity other than the thermal energy company or the municipality, expansion of the scope of possibilities for financial support from external sources and the creation of dedicated programs for the promotion of EPC (Energy Performance Contracting) projects prepared by an ESCO (Energy Saving Company or Energy Service Company).

Other proposed solutions concerned forms of consulting and education. Representatives of heating companies would like to have an opportunity to participate in trainings, to use technical advice of specialist companies or consulting when submitting applications. They also lack accessible information materials, from which they could learn, for example, about the distribution of energy potential of particular types of RES, which could be technically used.

Increasing public awareness in the field of environmental issues could also have a good impact on the development of the district heating sector and increase the share of RES in the production of district heat.

Collected information will allow to work out common recommendations for national and regional authorities, and financing institutions, which will concern creation of favorable framework, conditions and support instruments for development of district heating based on local, renewable energy sources.

More information on the project: https://www.interreg-central.eu/Content.Node/ENTRAIN.html