On September 20, 2017, the Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (Bratislava) and the Centre for Global Studies: Strategy XXI (Kyiv) in cooperation with the Ukrainian Association of Energy Efficient Cities (Lviv) organized an event in the city of Chernihiv on successful energy efficiency projects in Slovakia – Promoting Energy Efficiency in Ukraine: best practices from Slovakia.
The overall goal was to share with our Ukrainian partners Slovak experiences of improving energy efficiency and the use of renewables, including best practices on the municipal level, and to explore financial opportunities for funding energy efficiency projects in Ukraine. The event included presentations on projects implemented in Slovakia. The Slovak experience has added value since V4 countries, cities and municipalities have recently tackled problems similar to those found in Ukraine. In several cases V4 countries have used new technologies from the West, successfully adapting them for use with socialist-era infrastructure, such as centralized heating systems. This experience is certain to be of benefit to Ukraine as well.
Welcoming/opening speeches were given by First Deputy Chairman of the Regional Council Valentyn Melnychuk, Deputy Governor Serhiy Serhienko and Member of the Regional Council and Chairman of the Standing Committee on economic development, investment activity and implementation of state regulatory policy Dmytro Ivanov. Valentyn Melnychuk welcomed the Slovak participants and thanked the Ukrainian and Slovak experts for sharing their expertise and presenting their experience to heads and specialists from Ukrainian cities and municipal utilities. Serhiy Serhienko stressed the conference’s relevance to the energy security challenges facing the state and Chernihiv region. Noting the positive experience of cities such as Mena, where energy-efficient lighting was installed, Serhienko called for greater engagement and responsibility on the part of both government and energy consumers and noted that only by working together could significant improvements be made in regional infrastructure and energy saving.
Head of the Economic Department at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Ukraine Roman Žatko and Director of the Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association Alexander Duleba spoke about Slovak support in shaping appropriate state policy on energy efficiency and energy savings in Ukraine. In particular, Žatko highlighted five main aspects that would improve energy efficiency: updating the regulatory framework; introducing energy efficiency measures into the public sector; promoting energy savings to private consumers; energy security and competitiveness; and a focus on the needs of the consumer. Alexander Duleba stated that Slovakia had undergone a long period during which it had adopted energy efficiency experience from Western Europe and that it is now offering Ukraine examples of solutions tested and adopted for post-Soviet infrastructure, thus helping it avoid many of the mistakes that occurred in Slovakia. He recommended a balanced approach be adopted for each project and that the Ukrainians seek as much information as possible from Slovak colleagues regarding similar experiences. In his introductory speech Mykhaylo Gonchar, President of the Centre for Global Studies: Strategy XXI, explained why Slovak and Visegrad experience holds relevance for Ukraine and outlined the opportunities for Ukrainians to learn about it through conferences and study tours, which are an important component of the current project. He also highlighted the statistics (“Open Aid for Ukraine” Portal) on activity in Ukrainian regions cooperating with European partners and international donors to solve local problems. They show that the level cooperation with Europeans is high in the western regions but much lower in the eastern regions, in particular Chernihiv and Sumy, which indicates there is unused potential for greater cooperation. In his speech Dmitry Ivanov stressed the urgency of including energy efficiency in regional development programs and emphasized the initiative taken by some cities in forming relationships with international donors and implementing projects that could be used as examples for the rest of the region.
The expert session began with a presentation and discussion on the work of the Ukrainian State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Energy Savings led by Roman Maretsky, Deputy Head of the State Expertise Department. Maretsky described the work of the SAEE and the features and achievements of "Warm Credits" – a state program supporting energy-efficient projects – and also talked about the legal and regulatory draft work and the challenges facing the state and citizens. Andrii Lesio, energy auditor and head of OKNA.ua, an energy efficiency platform, spoke of the growing attention being paid to energy efficiency and energy saving in Ukraine, and outlined a number of applied research tools that can be used to help select energy-efficient materials, including a simple program that can be used to calculate the efficiency of existing or planned windows. Karel Hirman, expert with the Strategic Advisory Group for Supporting Ukrainian Reforms within the Cabinet of Ministers, spoke about the contribution Slovak experts have made to developing state policy on energy efficiency and energy savings, the challenges, prospects and distinctiveness of Slovak reforms, and upcoming plans regarding the introduction of new legislation.
During the third session the audience heard about the experiences of the Slovak Agency for Innovation and Energy. A speech by Director of International Cooperation Department Ján Magyar emphasized that innovation was key to success. He noted that it was extremely important to improve training for workers within the education system. Magyar said that every citizen and consumer must feel the benefit of energy efficiency improvements. In order to achieve this, the support program should be introduced in much the same way as, for example, in Slovakia between 2008 and 2013, when a street lighting renovation program for street was implemented in 2010, i.e. so it supports the modernization of systems for monitoring energy use in public buildings. Slovakia is incorporating the latest technologies and approaches in the construction of energy-efficient housing and has one of the largest databases of renovated buildings. Matúš Škvarka, Energy Manager of Trnava city, talked about the Trnava’s experience of successful reforms at the municipal level which have enabled the whole city to become energy self-sufficient. He believes the secret behind Trnava’s success lies in the control over who is responsible for answering questions about the city’s current, medium and long-term development and sustainability. Having achieved significant progress in meeting the current needs of the city, Trnava is now developing a general strategy for improving the environmental state of the urban space, in particular by promoting electric transport.
During the afternoon panel, Radoslav Kňazúr, Sales Manager with Datatherm, s.r.o. from the Slovak town of Teplička nad Váhom gave a presentation on his company’s experiences of local biomass fuel use in Slovakia. The company implements comprehensive solutions, from consultation through to the construction and maintenance of buildings run on local biomass. These involve heat-only or combined heat and electricity production with the flexible use of the available resources, for instance, based on the season. Peter Šiška, Commercial Director at Engul s.r.o. in Martin gave a presentation on the company’s main portfolio and cogeneration projects. Engul has developed different solutions based on a prime energy source and low, medium or high performance engines or water heated to a specific temperature. The company also specializes in producing heat from mineral oil, hot air, cold air and CO2. In addition it deals with municipal solid waste and the production of varying qualities of biogas for cogeneration. Ukrainian partner Alexander Moroz, representing Company Intech s.r.o., spoke about their successful experience of using organic waste to produce heat and electricity as well as their belief that organic waste can be used as a substitute for much of the fossil fuels used, provided there is good and effective collection and recycling of the resources available locally. Alexander Moroz believes Slovak companies are ready to introduce their technologies to Ukraine and to help provide financing for projects on acceptable terms.
Vladimír Kravec, a representative of Steinzeug Keramo, stressed that, in addition to energy efficiency, environmental security is very important. His company produces ceramic drain pipes, one of the most effective and long-term drainage solutions, whilst maintaining high environmental standards. The company also provides communal waste management solutions based on ceramic drain pipes, ensures that its systems are eco-friendly, that the work is consistent and that there is a return on investment. By installing ceramic pipes, cities will only need to repair the communal system once in almost 100 years of operation.
An important issue that attracted the audience’s interest was how to secure financing for energy efficiency projects, especially given the high interest rates in the domestic financial and banking sector. Executive Director of the Ukrainian Association of Energy Efficient Cities Andriy Kyrchiv gave details of the support programs available to Ukrainian cities, particularly the EU Covenant of Mayors program and of the financial mechanisms available to municipalities and private consumers.
Oksana Kysil, Chief Expert of the Covenant of Mayors East, outlined the Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs), including the newly introduced environmental dimension and the prospects and opportunities open to signatories through EU provided support.
Maksym Tykhomyrov, from the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ, discussed work on the maintenance and modernization of the hospital fund in Ukraine, especially a collaborative project with Chernihiv city. He stated that considerable attention would be paid to measures that do not require major funding, but that will have a significant effect in reducing and optimizing energy consumption. These mainly include the introduction of energy efficient technical and financial services, boosting the institutional capacity of the administrative and technical staff of hospitals and creating a platform for sharing lessons learned during the two modernization pilot projects.
After the panel session delegates asked a number of questions, and it is hoped these will result in new initiatives and common projects.
The conference concluded with speeches by the heads of the Slovak and Ukrainian conference organizers. In particular, A. Duleba thanked the delegates for their active participation and expressed his wish for continued cooperation with local self-government bodies. Although the current project is coming to an end, Duleba said he hoped further meetings would follow and that the dialogue between Ukrainian and Slovak cities on their experiences of energy efficiency would continue in greater depth. M. Gonchar thanked the Chernihiv Regional Council for their assistance in organizing the conference and providing premises and organizational support. Focusing on the accessibility and practical significance of the Slovak experience, Gonchar called for active dialogue and work at the local level irrespective of national policy, emphasizing that everyone has a duty to get their own house in order. He also called on delegates to make use of the available experience-sharing opportunities and to grasp the initiative in solving problems and challenges at the local level, preparing project proposals, and searching for potential project partners.
The event was received positively in Chernihiv and among participants from neighboring oblasts. After the event, the project manager and lead expert and event coordinator (Slovakia and Ukraine) also communicated with representatives of the various oblast(s) and discussed more concrete options for cooperation – either in educational or business activities within the respective oblasts.
The event was attended by around 118 people from various cities and municipalities, universities, state/regional/city institutions, academia, communal enterprises and by the media and experts.
The conference and project were promoted on the project website, www.eeV4ukraine.org, as well as on the RC SFPA website, www.sfpa.sk, and on the Facebook and twitter accounts of the main Ukrainian partner, the Centre for Global Studies: Strategy XXI, and the RC SFPA.