With skyrocketing energy prices in Europe, communities with geothermal energy as heating source are in a rather comfortable position due to stable energy prices. This also applies to Poland, as we reported last week.
As reported locally in Onet Kraków, as gas and coal are more expensive all over Poland, for households in Podhale/ Poland, heating bills have not even flickered.
PEC Geotermia Podhalanska is a heating system operating since 1993. It was built after it was discovered that the water flowing several kilometers under the Tatra Mountains had a temperature suitable for heating buildings. In 2020, the company announced work on a 17 MW thermal expansion.
Currently, about half of the inhabitants of Zakopane and the villages adjacent to the city are connected to the Geotermia heating network. We talk to Robert Wójciak, vice president of the company, about why the customers of Geotermia Podhala?ska do not feel the price increase in the energy sector.
As elsewhere, there are huge increases in the prices of gas, heating oil and coal. However, geothermal energy is still very cheap. According to the rates of 1 kWh (kilowatt-hour) of heat produced from gas, which have already been approved by the Energy Regulatory Office, it currently costs PLN 24.621 ($6.17). For the same kWh, customers of Geotermia Podhalanska pay PLN 6.381 ($1.60). In this situation, more and more inhabitants of Podhale are inclined to abandon gas in favour of geothermal energy.
In an interview Robert Wojciak, VP at PEC Geotermia Podhalanska, provides some insights.
How much heat has recently increased from Geotermia Podhalanska?
It did not become more expensive, or even cheaper. The VAT rate on heat has been temporarily reduced from 23 percent, up to 8 percent In the following months it will be 5 percent. This will significantly reduce the bills of heat consumers.
Are you serious? After all, all other energy sources such as gas, electricity, heating oil, coal and even pellets have become more expensive.
We have had the same heat tariffs for months. It is true that we applied to the ERO (Energy Regulatory Office) with a request to increase tariff prices for 2022, but this is a standard action. We do this every year. We applied for a several percent increase.
This means that Geotermia will be the cheapest heat source in Podhale. In this situation, do you already have a queue of people at your office willing to join its network? Until now, it was so that, for example, in Zakopane many households used gas because it was cheaper.
People come to our headquarters every day and submit appropriate inquiries or applications. We can see that there are more and more people asking to join the network. However, I would not call it an “avalanche” or “jump increase” yet, but a lot of people also call to initially ask about the possibility of connecting. Even those that currently have gas stoves.
Do you think that the number of applicants will increase if gas prices remain at the current level for longer? I understand that today someone may think that he will survive this period, because he has invested large sums in a gas boiler room. However, in the long run, it can be difficult for many people to pay high heating bills.
I think so. Geothermal energy is one of the most stable energy sources in terms of price. We extract hot water from under the ground, take heat energy from it through high-power heat exchangers, and then pump this water back to the ground. This method of managing geothermal water resources guarantees that such a heat source will never end. And referring to the recent information about a significant increase in gas prices, I think that many people will analyze the costs of heating and despite the fact that they have invested in gas boiler houses, they will want to connect to geothermal energy.
Nothing but to build geothermal networks everywhere …
It sounds beautiful in theory, but in practice it’s not that simple. Deposits of geothermal waters do not exist in the entire territory of Poland, or the stated temperatures of these waters are too low to obtain thermal energy from them. This is one point. The second is that building the entire heating infrastructure, I mean a production well, an absorbent well, geothermal water pipelines, networks and connections are very high costs. Such an investment would pay off in a very long period of time.
However, looking at what our company has at its disposal, I can say that we still have a lot of possibilities to connect people willing to our network. Although there will also be people who cannot be connected for technical reasons.
Source: Onet Kraków