Wroclaw is the largest city in south west Poland, with 650,000 inhabitants. Although there is a large thermal district heating plant (cogeneration) in the city, it is not available for all inhabitants. Coal-fired boilers are still commonly used, often supplied with all kinds of waste and releasing substantial amounts of CO2 emissions. In Poland, electricity is mostly produced in coal-fueled power plants, which makes projects like Lightness an important part of the energy transition.
More than half of Poland’s population lives in large blocks of flats. As a result, there is very little common roof area per capita, an important factor in determining the potential for installation of solar photovoltaic cells. There are two types of housing associations: Spółdzielnia mieszkaniowa (housing cooperative) and Wspólnota mieszkaniowa (housing community), which can manage building communities. This case study will focus on the first type. The Spółdzielnia mieszkaniowa’s legal framework allows for decisions to made by a few members regarding facility management, infrastructure, and maintenance in the respective facilities.
Three locations and 19 apartment blocks have been selected in one of the biggest communities, Spółdzielnia-Południe. What is unique about this pilot is the solar installation is on 35 high density apartment buildings, with as many as 66 flats under one single, small roof. The installation was completed, but there is significant opportunity to lower energy bills if the energy could be consumed locally. This is what Lightness will support.
The total size of the Spółdzielnia-Południe is 102 blocks, 11,000 apartments and approximately 30,000 inhabitants. Solar installation was completed on 35 blocks.
In Poland, there are 500 housing communities with 14 million inhabitants living in buildings managed by them.