Szczecin has been investing in its own energy sources for years with a view to catering for the City’s functioning needs. However, in the circumstances of continued growth of electricity prices and the instability in this respect, it is necessary to extend the scale of such operations. Our goal – to achieve energy independence
Why do we need energy?
Energy is indispensable for the proper functioning of the City in nearly every sphere. Szczecin needs over 96,000 MWh of electricity a year. It is distributed to Szczecin-based schools, pre-schools, care establishments, offices and other city institutions. It is used in municipal water supply systems, street lighting and tram network, and a power outage may result in a complete paralysis.
This year, the City paid over PLN 48 million for electricity. However, the increase in energy prices has resulted in the fact that this high bill may increase threefold in 2023, up to the amount of nearly PLN 150 million. The amount is not a forecast or estimate, but it represents rates quoted in electricity supply tenders. Unfortunately, even the proverbial “turning off the lights” is not able to stop the process. We are unable to predict how the situation will unfold in the years to come. Will there be another raise? Are we at risk of an energy crisis? Will there be power supply problems? We don’t know, but we can prepare for such situations investing in our own energy sources.
How does Szczecin generate electricity?
Municipal energy sources are based on state-of-the-art and green solutions. Following global trends, we have been investing in photovoltaic solutions for several years now. Over 40 municipal entities generate solar energy, using 4,200 photovoltaic panels. They were installed as part of several dedicated programmes (also with the participation of EU Funds), and also on the occasion of building upgrades. They can be found on the roofs of schools, pre-schools, nurseries, social welfare houses or sports facilities. These PV systems generate a total of nearly 1,500 MWh of electricity a year.
The Szczecin Water Supply and Sewage System Company (Szczeciński Zakład Wodociągów i Kanalizacji) is a leader among domestic water supply companies as regards renewable energy sources. Power is supplied from photovoltaic plants, Francis turbine, and biogas plants. The total volume of electricity produced from RES in 2021 is an impressive 7,384 MWh, which translated into measurable economic benefits. Savings related to electricity purchase amounted to PLN 2.8 million, and revenue from the sale of a small amount of excess electricity was PLN 0.2 million. The company generates 25% of power necessary for its functioning from its own sources.
EcoGenerator is a modern combined heat and power plant fuelled by our waste. In 2021, it generated a total of 76,700 MWh of electric power, and since its launch over 311,000 MWh of electricity which, until now, was fully transmitted to the National Power Supply Network. EcoGenerator also produces heating energy in combination with electric power. It is received by Szczecin Heating Energy Company (Szczecińska Energetyka Cieplna). The production volume of heating energy amounted to over 687,000 GJ, and during the four years of EcoGenerator’s operations, the plant produced over 2.1 million GJ of heat.
Towards energy independence
The increased use of own energy sources, and ultimately reaching the point of energy independence, will allow Szczecin to stabilise energy prices and break free from external factors. It also means security of supplies, a guarantee that there will be no energy shortages in Szczecin, and care for the environment, as far the use of renewable energy sources is concerned.
With its current capabilities, EcoGenerator is able to secure around 65% of the City's needs. Since the beginning of the new year, the electricity from the incineration plant will be the source of power for street lamps, traffic lights, information boards or ticket vending machines. The net rate of PLN 0.25/kWh offered by the Waste Treatment Enterprise (ZUO) will allow the reduction of costs incurred by the Road and Public Transport Authority by PLN 27 million.
The next step consists in the construction of photovoltaic plants and the use of the energy for the City's purposes. Szczecin is in possession of areas which are currently being reviewed in terms of proper conditions (e.g. inclination and sun exposure) and the possibility to connect to the electricity grid. These areas, covered by photovoltaic panels, would be able to generate even 45,000 MWh of electricity a year. The entire project will be implemented in stages. As a result, these plants or other alternative energy sources, together with the EcoGenerator, would be able to cater for the City’s entire demand for electricity, and ensure energy independence to Szczecin.