On Friday, the municipalities of Domaniów, Kondratowice, Przeworno, Strzelin and Wiązów formed the Renewable Energy Cluster of Strzelin Hills. These cluster municipalities will become “energy islands” over time allowing up to 44,500 people to spend less for energy. To date, energy clusters have been created in 15 Lower Silesian municipalities.

The Energy Cluster formation means that photovoltaic and bioelectric power plants can be established in the communes of Domaniów, Kondratowice, Przeworno, Strzelin and Wiązów. The expected output capacity of these renewable energy projects will be on average 3 MW in one municipality (2 MW from photovoltaics and a minimum of 1 MW from bio-power plants). Ultimately, the communities will become so-called “energy islands” and will achieve total self-sufficiency. The surplus energy will be allocated to help meet the electricity needs of Wroclaw.

– Renewable energy sources are the future of the energy sector. – says Dorota Pawnuk, Mayor of Strzelin. – For a long time we have been working on the establishment of a photovoltaic power plant at the site of the former wastewater treatment plant. We hope that cooperation with other local governments will create such an opportunity. Residents are very interested in this topic. They realize that clean energy will bring savings, but will also benefit the environment – he adds.

The Domaniów municipality also has its own power plant. – We plan a photovoltaic farm on two wasteland lots, with a total area of 4.3 hectares, located in Danielowice and Grodziszowice. At the same time we want to install solar panels on the roofs of public buildings, and over time exchange heat sources in the homes of the residents – says Wojciech Głogulski, head of the municipality of Domaniów.

Similar plans are underway in the municipality of Przeworno. – We will implement effective programs and solutions to improve the environment. With the help of external resources, we want to install photovoltaic panels on our municipal public buildings. We are going to store, process and use energy from renewable sources. In perspective, we want to help our inhabitants with pro-ecological activities, including the production of ‘clean’ electricity – says Jarosław Taranek, the mayor of Przeworno municipality.

As of last year, energy clusters are governed by the amended Renewable Energy Act whose aim is to restructure and modernize the Polish power industry through the pursuit of a low carbon economy. According to the wording of the law, energy cluster activities cannot exceed the boundaries of one county or five municipalities, and its coordinator should be one member. in this case it is the municipality of Strzelin.

– Raising external funds and cooperation between local governments open up far more opportunities than is the case with investments conducted by single communities – says Wojciech Bochnak, head of the municipality of Kondratowice. – This is not the first time we’ve joined forces. Previously we successfully implemented a project of equipping schools with modern computer laboratories. I am convinced that the establishment of an energy cluster will repeat this success. We are currently making changes to the local spatial development plan. The photovoltaic power plant will probably be built in the vicinity of Gołostowice.

Jerzy Krochmalny, mayor of the town and the community of Elm added that – Clusters of renewable energy are of great importance not only when it comes to environmental protection but also because of the increase of innovation, lowering the costs of functioning of the community and the possibility of obtaining external funds for the planned investments.

Mr Krochmalny’s role as coordinator will be to prepare a comprehensive development strategy to attract project investment. The municipal company Strzelin PS Renewable Energy, established by the municipality of Strzelin and the Polish Solar Holding company, will allow for access to additional grants, including national and EU funds.

– We are pleased that more communities are seeking increased energy independence and the development of local entrepreneurial activities in renewable energy. They have confirmed their ability to innovate and grow the economy through a commitment to environmental protection and so become an example for other local governments – says Jacek Ryński, a member of the supervisory board of Strzelin PS Energetyka Renewialna.

The Strzelin Hills Renewable Energy Group is the fourth such project in Poland implemented by local governments. The first initiative was the Renewable Energy Cluster of the Lusatian Land, made up of the Olszyna, Gryfów Śląski, Leśna, Siekierczyn and Lubań communes. The local governments of Prussia, Oborniki Śląskie, Wisznia Mała, Wołów and Żmigród followed, creating a cluster of renewable energy Trzebnickie Hills. In turn, Mirsk, Wleń, Lubomierz, Lwówek Śląski and Stara Kamienica have joined forces to form Izerski Klaster Energii.