On June 18 - 25, 2017, twenty representatives from the Ukrainian towns and municipalities visited Slovakia. They spent a week meeting their counterparts, having discussions and touring successful energy-efficiency projects.
On June 18, 2017 a group of 20 representatives from local municipal and state authorities in Ukraine arrived in Slovakia on a study trip as part of the “Building capacities for energy sector reform: sharing Slovak experience with Ukraine” project. It is being implemented with the generous support of USAID by the Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA) in cooperation with the Ukrainian Centre for Global Studies "Strategy XXI" and the Association of Energy Efficient Cities in Ukraine.
The group consisted of representatives from the Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya, Kirovograd, Kherson and Chernigiv oblasts: mayors, deputy mayors, heads of communal enterprises and energy managers from city and state councils.
Upon their arrival in Bratislava on June 18, 2017 leading expert Alexander Duleba gave an introductory briefing, informing the group about the background of the project, its importance and the study tour schedule and main planks. He also provided information about the meetings. The participants were additionally advised on the logistics and matters concerning the organization of the trip.
WORKING DAY 1
On Monday, June 19, 2017 the group visited the Building Testing and Research Institute (TSUS), a leading Slovak non-profit organization that deals with (and has practical responsibility for) the energy certification of buildings and insulation materials used in construction. TSUS director and respected expert in the field prof. Zuzanna Sternová gave a presentation on the main legislative and technical requirements relating to construction materials and explained the categorization of buildings and certification.
The group also visited the TSUS testing laboratory, where engineers explained the procedures for the chemical and mechanical testing of thermal insulating materials and their characteristics. The participants also visited a pilot project for the complete refurbishment of a communist-era apartment building in the Devínska Nová Ves district of Bratislava— a tangible outcome of TSUS’s research results. Accompanied by Zuzanna Sternová & Roman Horečný of TSUS.
The second part of the day was devoted to a visit to the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA). Artur Bobovnický, Director of the Innovation and International Cooperation Directorate, outlined the Agency’s history and mission. The Agency is responsible for carrying out educational and scientific programs and for monitoring and assessing energy consumption amongst other things. A very important part of the Agency’s work is devoted to research and the implementation of innovations. The SIEA is also responsible for the utilization of funds provided by European and international organizations for energy efficiency and energy saving measures in the public sector.
The group were shown a pilot project implemented using SIEA funds in the village of Rišňovce, where the municipal office buildings and house of culture were renovated. Both the technical and financial aspects of the project implementation were outlined to the Ukrainians by the Mayor of Rišňovce Karol Laboš and SIEA project manager Miloš Staštík.
WORKING DAY 2
The second day of the study tour was also divided into two blocks. The first was devoted to the small town of Trnava, where the Ukrainian group learnt about the town’s energy management and visited projects implemented by STEFE Trnava, s.r.o. The second part was spent visiting Biopalivo, a.s., Thermonova a.s., Datatherm EU, s.r.o.
In the morning, the group were received by Vice-Mayor of Trnava Matej Lančarič who gave a presentation on the town and its development plan. Trnava is one of Slovakia’s oldest towns. After the Vice-Mayor’s presentation, Matúš Škvarka, Trnava’s Energy Manager, talked about Trnava’s energy policy. He compared the town’s energy infrastructure and energy mix with others in Slovakia, discussed its participation in international associations and foundations, and engagement in energy efficiency and energy saving projects and programs. He also mentioned measures taken by the city mayor to enhance energy efficiency.
After the presentation, the group visited a site with a small PV-power plant on the roof-top of an office building that reduces the building’s energy dependency. Representatives from STEFE Trnava, s.r.o. demonstrated the main parts of the small PV-power plant, explaining the economics of the project, features concerning its implementation and functionality in light of the regulatory framework and business environment in Slovakia. STEFE representatives (Ľubomír Krajčovič, Jozef Demovič, Igor Mihálik) also explained to the Ukrainians how Trnava is supplied with heat through its existing heating system.
During lunch, a press conference was held for local media in the Trenčín region, where the group was transferred from Trnava. At the press conference, the organizers and participants discussed the project, its importance and prospects and answered questions from Slovak journalists.
After the short briefing, there were presentations on the activities of holding companies Biopalivo, a.s., Thermonova a.s. and Datatherm EU, s.r.o. These companies produce heat and electricity from biomass. Štefan Smrekovský, CEO, gave an introduction about the company to the group, covering the processes and procedures involved in obtaining the biomass and producing heat and electricity on site.
Štefan Smrekovský and Datatherm sales manager Radoslav Kňazúr and the Ukrainians visited two facilities. The first, Biopalivo, a.s., processes the raw materials and is responsible for the first stage of the process – securing and processing the raw material for burning.
The group then visited the Termonova a.s thermal power plant in Nová Dubnica, which uses biomass to provide the 12,000 inhabitants of the town with heat and electricity. The group was scheduled to visit one more plant in Trenčín; however, the energetic discussion on all aspects of the work at the previous plant meant there was no time left for this visit.
WORKING DAY 3
On their third day in Slovakia, the Ukrainian group visited the village of Bešeňová and the town of Kežmarok, studying cogeneration units with modern technologies for separating pollution from biomass burning and preventing noise pollution.
The day started with a visit to Bešeňová, including a tour of a cogeneration unit with a capacity of 3600 kWt provided by Engul s.r.o. The power plant operates in the local water amusement park and produces electricity and heat for it. The repsentation was given by Ján Novák of Engul and Ján Čurilla of EUROCOM Investments.
After the visit, the group transferred to the small town of Kežmarok. They were first received by the Head of the City Council, Karol Gurka, who introduced them to the place and gave details of the role the town of 16,000 inhabitants plays in Slovakia. The head of the town’s communal enterprise, Marián Bešenej, showed the group the central heating supply company — Spravbytherm s.r.o. The group also visited two hybrid gas and biomass boiler houses. The added value and importance of these is that owing to their unobtrusiveness (no visible indications or noise or smoke stacks) these small-scale boilers can be used in small boiler houses and places with dense housing. The head of the company explained the economic parameters of heat production for that particular type of fuel. The management system required to manage the hybrid boiler houses, logistical issues concerning the delivery of the biomass and boiler stoking were also explained to the group.
WORKING DAY 4
On June 22, the Ukrainian delegation visited the city of Prešov and the regional energy cluster and were shown the project to replace the street lighting system. The schedule for the fourth day included visits to two sites and presentations on theoretical, planning, systemic and practical aspects of implementing energy efficiency measures in Slovakia.
The first site was the Prešov Region Energy Cluster. Rudolf Pojezdala, implementing director of the ELENA program, talked about the current situation regarding energy efficiency, the potential to make greater energy savings, and European financial instruments for financing project implementation. R. Pojezdala also covered the financial instruments available on the Slovak market and related requirements. His opinion was that the interest rate on energy efficiency loans is around 1 per cent, or even 0.68 per cent with a payback period of 10 years. While private banks provide similar loans at interest rates of 4–5 per cent.
The group spent the second part of the day in the town of Veľký Šariš, where the Head of the City Council Sylvia Hetmánková and Veľký Šariš project manager Viliam Kall gave a presentation about the town’s situation, history and famous places. He also discussed the amount and types of support the town has received from EU funds with the Ukrainian delegation.
One project financed through EU funds was to modernize the town’s public lighting system. The project was implemented by O.S.V.O. comp a.s., and company representatives (Róbert Lukáč & Adrian Čirč) explained the business and special aspects of the project. The project has led to a 60 per cent reduction in the energy consumed by the lighting system and improved the aesthetics and effectiveness of public lighting.
WORKING DAY 5
On June 23, 2017 the final working day of the study tour, the Ukrainian group visited the city of Košice to study the city’s energy supply system and energy efficiency measures.
First, the group visited the city council, where Vice-Mayor Renáta Lenártova gave a presentation on the city and the main trends in its development. Energy and environment sector managers – Mária Kattferová and Milan Ilenin – described the structure of local self-governance and the role of the energy sector in it. The city has a central heating system operated by a municipal company, Tepláreň Kosice, a.s. (TEKO). Another important topic was the issue of waste treatment in the city.
The Ukrainian group visited the thermal power plant mentioned above which works by combining fuel (coal-gas) provided by the TEKO company. The presentation was given by Peter Mihaľov, head of the technical and sales department and his colleague Róbert Kisiday. This TPP is 50 years old and has experienced different types of modernization and retrofitting under different regulatory and market conditions. Since 1997 the ratio of coal to gas in the generation processes has changed and is now 80/20. Four years ago, the company fully modernized its generating units to meet higher emission requirements. Despite the sharp decrease in heat and electricity consumption after 1997, TEKO is still one of the biggest heat producers in the country, providing heat to Slovakia’s second largest city. It also produces electricity and balances the energy system. During the visit the Ukrainian group were given a comprehensive overview of TPP and had all their questions answered.
The final site was the waste water treatment facility. The head of the sewage plant Pavol Bielek and representative of the Steinzeug-Keramo company, Vladimír Kravec, explained that it was built to provide the entire Košice agglomeration of 250,000 inhabitants with clean water and it has all the possible stages in water purification. Biogas from the cleaning units can produce 300 kWt of electricity and 400 kWt of heat for use in the technological processes. Today the company has a very high level of energy efficiency and there is no means of further decreasing consumption using current technologies. The water treatment level is so high that it meets the most stringent of EU requirements. The group visited all the units at the facility and received answers to all their questions.
The group and representatives from the International Financial Corporation who were also interested in joining the study tour and obtaining more information about Slovakia’s energy efficiency experience expressed their satisfaction with the program and a willingness to cooperate in the future.