The Lubań Living Lab is located in the Kashubian village of Lubań (kasz. Lëbòniô) the history of which dates back to the middle-ages (first mentioned in 1280). The population of the rural community in 2019 was about 2000 inhabitants. In XVIII century the mansion was owned by the mother of Józef Wybicki, Polish politician who authored the Polish national anthem. Till the end of the II World War the village was a grange with a XIX century mansion and an extension housing distillery, surrounded by a historical park. The complex, holding during the communistic regime, status of the state-owned farm was a renowned Regional Agricultural Innovation Center ensuring work services for over 3 000 people, along with the village church and shops. Already at the beginning of 90ties village was equipped with an independent sewerage system and a district heating grid supplying heat and domestic hot water to the housing quarters, the grange, the mansion and the Pomeranian Agricultural Advisory Center PODR adopting the former agricultural school buildings. The system was powered by a culm-fueled boiler house located in the old distillery. Later, two 900 kW coal boilers were located in an adjacent building. The historical heritage of this place had been significantly damaged, which was the common fate for most manor estates nationalisated after 1945. After the system changes of 1989, over many years, Lubań was an example of the slow degradation and depopulation of rural areas, hopelessly waiting for a public development strategy.
In 2012, the Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery Polish Academy of Sciences (IMP PAN) supported by the Energy Department at the Marshal Office in Gdańsk, initiated cooperation with the PODR, for development and promotion of new technologies in the field of distributed energetics for rural areas. The PODR Center, the largest employer in the region, actively supports both agricultural innovation and the energy prosumer ideas in rural areas. Nowadays, Lubań is known mainly for the Kashubian Agricultural Autumn Fair, gathering up to 50 000 people every year, since 1992 (Fig. 4). In 2015 in active cooperation between the IMP PAN, the Gdańsk University of Technology (GUT) and the private Eco-Construction company, the first microbiogas plant was built as a new educational
infrastructure on the PODR plot. This pilot installation of the project “Integrated Technologies for Fuel and Energy Production from Biomass, Agricultural Waste, etc.’ in the Strategic program – Advanced Energy Technologies of Polish National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), was used as a Living Lab for subsequent investigations and biogas promotion by scientific institutions and the PODR till 2020. Gradual improvements have led to the changes both in technical and socio- economical domains.
During the interaction and discussions with the local community and the main public-sector steakholders (especially PODR), the team of Eco-Construction Ltd., recognized the significance and the high potential of this historical yet degraded village. Its revitalization can be an exemplary subject of energy transition in rural areas. As early as 2015, the company therefore designed (in cooperation with IMP PAN) a new, energy plus PODR headquarters, while the PODR decided to move its headquarters from Gdańsk. The design included a 40 kW solar installation on a field (executed on and connected to the grid), a solar parking (a concept), a 40 kW wind turbine and 140 kW ground source heat pumps (already executed, supplying two PODR office buildings). In July 2017, a new (totally refurbished) PODR Centre was opened.
In the meantime, a series of interactions and discussion with local citizens and activists led to the development of plans for revitalization of the entire village, including the mansion with the destillary as well as an energy supply system. In 2016, as the first step, Eco-Construction Ltd. initiated the Revitalisation Living Lab activities aimed at energy transition towards an energy plus village, which involved development of plans in cooperation with the residents and the local administration as well as IMP PAN participation. The revitalization plan included a solar parking (Fig. 5.A), the renovated mansion house with a historical park and the educational path (Fig. 5.B), a new private housing estate (Fig. 5.C), a new 250 kW biogas plant exploiting the biowaste available locally (i.e. pig, cattle and poultry manure, grass and municipal biowaste, etc.) (Fig. 5.D), a 40 kW photovoltaic micro-installation and a windmill (Fig. 5.E), the Education and R&D Centre (Fig. 5.F) and an innovative, low temperature, 4 th generation district heating system with a boiler house (located in the old distillery, in the left wing of the mansion). Meanwhile, as a part of the preparation, Eco-Construction Ltd. invested in and bought an old dilapidated distillery, where the new innovative heating system is being designed, including a green energy fueled boilers, supported with PV installation, solar panels and air heat pumps; it should replace the oversized 900 kWt boilers fueled by highly polluting culm (coal waste).
The Revitalisation Living Lab activities included a series of meetings related to:
- the design plan of energy cluster – developed by Eco-Construction Ltd. in cooperation with the IMP PAN and the GUT
- presentation of the design plan during several meetings with local citizens and activists, the municipality and the PODR administration, as well as members of the Polish Parliament
- development of the LTDH idea with participation of Lubań citizens and the Lubanianka housing cooperative
- the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the local cooperative, in order to refurbish a common heating system
- presentation of a design plan during various project meetings with companies, regional and national authorities, and lobbying with the decision makers
- development of an Educational Path as part of the Living Lab on RES and waste management
These activities led to the signing of an LoI related to the Pomeranian Energy Cluster (located in Lubań), between Eco-Construction, local authorities, the GUT and the IMP PAN (2016). In 2017, Eco-Construction Ltd. presented the first draft of the revitalization plan for Lubań, developed in cooperation with IMP PAN and local activists, with emphasis on RES (Fig. 5). Wide promotion of the Revitalisation Living Lab and the plan designed began.
Meanwhile, Eco-Construction Ltd., upon the request of the PODR, also designed the revitalization plan, including thermomodernization of other, older PODR buildings, with implementation of a ground source heat pump (140kW) and 10kWp PV modules on the roof. At the same time, the company developed, along with another investor, a concept for a new eco-profiled kindergarten. The building permits are ongoing.
In 2019, the designed micro PV farm (40kWp) was built by the PODR. Simultaneously, the activities aiming at replacement of the old, oversized coal boiler house supplying the heating to the Lubanianka Housing Cooperative (LHC) began. After the thermomodernization, the heat demand for houses should drop drastically and the heating systems should work more efficiently when it is matched to the heat demand. However, the existing boiler house is equipped with 2 large 900 kW coal boilers, although the average heat demand is a maximum of 350 kW in winter and drops to 60 kW during summer. It has been estimated that the yearly average efficiency of the system approaches 50% and drops to 20% during summer, when only domestic hot water is in demand.
The assessment results were presented to the LHC administration and during a housing cooperative gathering. After a series of meetings and clarifications, an LoI was signed in May 2020 between the LHC, Eco-Construction Ltd. and IMP PAN which has opened the road towards the LTDH system implementation in Lubań. A new on-line energy monitoring system has been designed and implemented by Eco-Construction as a part of doctoral work which enables continuous analysis of parameters of the existing grid and boiler house. It takes into account the possibility of heat supply for new housing estates, hotels and restaurants in an Education and R&D Centre (Fig. 5), implementation of various RES, including heat-storage systems enabling appropriate heat-demand response. This would be one of the first LTDH systems in a Polish rural area and a benchmark for similar systems. The municipality of Nowa Karczma (which includes the village of Lubań) strongly supports the concept of the Lubań revitalization. In the years 2016-2022, the municipality designed and implemented a new street plan in Lubań, taking into account the revitalization plans. Additionally, in 2020 as part of the Wasteman project of South Baltic Program, the municipality implemented an educational path, as part of the Revitalisation Living Lab – designed by Eco-Construction Ltd and IMP PAN, in relation to waste management and RES.