EU investigates Polish public support for district heating upgrades

The Commission has concerns the planned support may not be in line with EU state aid rules as it does not meet the ‘efficient district heating’ criteria set out in the Energy Efficiency Directive

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The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to assess if Poland’s plans to support the refurbishment of five district heating networks are in line with state aid rules.

Poland intends to upgrade the district heating networks in the five municipalities of Tarnobrzeg, Ropczyce, Lesko, Dębica and Ustrzyki Dolne, all located in the Podkarpackie region.

The projects, which generate heat predominantly from coal-fired boilers, were selected in 2016 through a tender.

The proposed refurbishments include the upgrade of and in some cases the extension of the pipe networks around the district heating networks, but not the plants themselves.

The Commission, at this stage, has concerns the planned public support may not be in line with EU state aid rules as it does not meet the “efficient district heating” criteria set out in the Energy Efficiency Directive.

It stated: “The public support notified by Poland appears to aim at inefficient district heating systems supplied by heat from predominantly coal-fired boilers. It would therefore not solve the problem of the inefficient heat source supplying the system and would risk locking in inefficient and polluting heat production.

“The Commission has therefore doubts that the measures further the EU’s common objective of environmental protection, as required by the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy.

“The Commission will now investigate further to determine whether its initial concerns are confirmed. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Poland and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.”

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