Two new solar parks in Slovenia

HSE, a Slovenian hydropower producer is building two new solar parks. One will be close to 47,7 MW Brežice hydroelectric plant on the lower reaches of the Sava River. Second will be in Zlatolicje on the right bank of the Drava River, southeast of Maribor

Find out more: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/08/17/large-scale-pv-finds-footing-in-slovenia/

 


Estonia develops maps for ecosystem services and renewable energy planning

Within the framework of the IRENES project, the Estonian Environmental Agency, in cooperation with the Estonian University of Life Sciences, developed map layers based on the methodology for assessing the tradeoffs and synergies of renewable energy and ecosystem services, which can easily be used in the planning process.

"IRENES maps provide valuable additional information for developers and planners - the maps clearly show, for example, the priority areas for wind energy development. In areas that already offer many different ecosystem benefits (the hotspots), the addition of wind energy may be too much”, said Indrek Laas, Project Manager of the Environmental Agency

The maps show the distribution of ecosystem service hotspots in Estonia and the connections with other areas (wind speed, protected areas, and green areas). "IRENES map layers are based on scientific results, are scalable, and can easily be used in combination with other map layers used in planning to reduce the negative impact of planned objects," said Miguel Pecina Villoslada, a researcher in ecosystem services at the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

In the long run, versatile planning of renewable energy facilities leads to the improvement of the living environment at the level of the individual, nature and the community and contributes to the development of a sustainable economy. "It is very important that decisions on the development of renewable energy facilities are made on the right basis and based on a scientific method," added Elis Vollmer, head of the Center of Renewable Energy in the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Maps of IRENES ecosystem services and renewable energy can be found on the Estonian Environment Agency map story platform: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/2c2b3527e2134450b321e6e8a7100a14 In the future the maps will be accompanied with a methodology for planning appropriate mitigation measures for

The map material was developed within the IRENES project. The IRENES project brings together ten partners from five European countries and is based on collaboration between research institutions and the public sector to develop methodologies and effective methods to ensure the maximum involvement of ecosystem services in renewable energy development from an environmental, economic, social and governance perspective.


The role of innovative financing schemes in the implementation of SECAPs

Municipalities have the option of employing innovative financing mechanisms in order to mobilise the necessary resources for the implementation of their Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP). This is especially pertinent in communities where access to traditional finance is limited or burdensome. Moreover, innovative financing mechanisms often allow for local ownership, thereby increasing interest in energy efficiency and climate change on the ground. Such initiatives not only help protect the environment but equally raise awareness in the given communities, helping foster the sustainability of measures.

The Covenant of Mayors has developed a publication, summarising a number of success stories and lessons learnt regarding innovative financing schemes from across Europe. The examples listed include: Municipal green bonds, energy taxes, Energy Performance Contracting (EPC), Local Energy Cooperatives (LEC), soft loans, on-tax financing, third party investment and revolving funds. In all cases, the publication highlights that the different instruments can be adapted to the specific local context of the municipality. It also shows that relatively small measures, which do not constitute a substantial burden for individual citizens can make a big difference at city level.

For example, one case introduced in the publication is that of Paris’ green bond system whereby the city of Paris issued a green bond worth 300 million EUR prior to the COP21 in 2015. This initiative proved to be very successful and managed to stimulate investor interest.  Two years later, a further green bond was issued worth 320 million EUR. Both were long-term bonds (17 years) at an interest rate of 1.43%. Unexpectedly, diverse domestic and international investors offered the city of Paris a total of 1.2 billion EUR for the bond.  The funds raised made it possible for the city to implement numerous climate and energy projects and help it move towards reaching its climate targets.

The H2020-financed E-FIX project obtained similar results, running pilot financing campaigns in 6 countries (Armenia, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia and Poland). Despite the varying local contexts, the campaigns showed that crowdfunding, e-leasing and Energy Supply Contracting (ESC) can mobilise substantial private sector resources for energy efficiency projects. For instance, a photovoltaic plant was installed on a hospital in Zabok, Croatia as part of an ESC pilot. Thanks to this arrangement, the hospital did not have to finance the construction of the solar power plant but entered into a contractual relationship with a private investor who had been selling electricity to the hospital. Not only did this enable the hospital to access “clean” energy, it also resulted in reduced energy costs for the hospital.

Similarly, e-leasing made it possible for an Armenian company to build an energy efficient greenhouse, resulting in annual energy savings of 4GWh. This investment also had a substantial social impact as it bore job creation potential, allowing for the employment of 60 individuals in a rural area of Armenia. Crowdfunding was deemed to have the potential of a similar social impact in the Czech Republic. The Czech pilot foresaw the raising of funds for the reconstruction of the family care house “Centre of Christian Help Krabčice” for people with Alzheimer. The crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising sufficient funds to render the building energy efficient while simultaneously pursuing social goals, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

These are just a few examples of how innovative financing instruments can be applied to benefit both the environment and the citizens of cities. As municipalities work on achieving the targets of their SECAPs and making their cities more environmentally friendly, these instruments will likely gain in popularity as an alternative to traditional financing sources. This is especially important in light of the current pandemic where municipalities and citizens need to work together to undo growing social inequalities and counteract increased disregard for environmental measures.


Croatian Government sends new Electricity Market Act to Parliament

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development has released into the parliamentary procedure the final bill on the electricity market. The law lays down common rules for the production, transmission, distribution and storage of energy and electricity supply, together with consumer protection provisions, in order to create an integrated, competitive, flexible, fair and transparent electricity market, according to the draft.

The law lays down rules relating to the organization and functioning of the electricity sector of the Republic of Croatia, in particular rules on the empowerment and protection of final customers, open access to the integrated electricity market, third-party access to electricity transmission and
distribution infrastructure, requirements for separation of transmission system operators and rules on the independence of the regulatory authority. The law seeks to ensure affordable and transparent energy prices and costs for final customers, a high degree of security of supply and a smooth
transition to a sustainable low-carbon energy system.

The adoption of this law is a precondition, among other things, for the further development of renewable energy sources, and now the government is expected to release a new Renewables Act into the procedure, so that the first tender can be launched under the premium model for higher
production forces. In the future, significant investments will be needed in the electricity network that will allow it to be able to handle 1500 MW from new renewable sources by 2026, which is a doubling of investments in HEP – Distribution System Operator and Croatian Transmission System Operator.


Water Risk Filter for businesses and municipalities

Water is related to many risks that can have a profound impact on the development of a municipality or company. Moreover, these risks are increasing as a result of climate change.

The WWF Hungary Foundation’s Water Risk Filter (launched in 2012) is a practical online tool (https://waterriskfilter.panda.org/) to help local governments, businesses, and water users to easily assess and evaluate potential water risks.

In the LIFE-MICACC project, the Water Risk Filter was filled with Hungarian data in addition to the global databases to help municipalities find water risks in the catchment areas of their interest. The high-resolution Hungarian databases also show spatial differences, such as the differences between the Transdanubian region and the Great Plain, which the global map cannot show.

The Water Risk Calculator will also help to start a dialogue between municipalities and companies operating in their areas with higher water risks on common environmental challenges and possible adaptation measures.

An online guide to the Water Risk Filter has been produced in English and is available below: https://vizkockazat.wwf.hu/


All targeted Polish municipalities joined Covenant of Mayors

After many meetings, consultations and four offical Municipal Councils Assemblies municipalities Korczew, Jabłonna Lacka, Kotuń and Stara Kornica joined CoM initiative and decided to support the achievement of the goals of the EU climate and energy policy by implementing its demands in their areas. By joining the Agreement, municipalities strive to reduce CO2 emissions and in their action plans aim to reduce energy consumption, taking into account the component of adaptation to climate change.

The ever deeper awareness of local governments that it is the joint actions in a strictly focused climate and energy strategy that will bring the results noticeable and desired by the natural environment.

After joining the Covenant of Mayors, the municipalities have 2 years to develop a "Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP)", the works already started!


CEESEN Conference 2022 - Stay tuned!

More information will come later on the CEESEN Conference 2022!

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news!


Slovenian government is prepared to participate in achieving the EU climate change mitigation goals!

In July 2021, the Slovenian government adopted the new Act on The Promotion of the Use of Renewable Energy Sources. The content of the Act regulates the implementation of the national and local policy in the field of the use of renewable energy sources (RES), determines the goals in the field of RES and measures for achieving these goals and the methods of their financing. The purpose of this Act is to harmonize the national legal order with the EU law.

Some essential contents of the Act:

  • the Act sets an annual initial share of RES, which must not be lower than 25%, while the overall target for 2030 is set in the NECP;
  • the Act regulates the support scheme and, in this context, also the content related to declarations for production facilities and guarantees of origin. Small producers are given the option of directly entering the support scheme, while larger ones are required to compete;
  • within the framework of international cooperation mechanisms, the Act regulates the rules on statistical transfers, joint projects and participation in the EU financial mechanism. Funds for the purchase are provided from the support scheme, and the funds obtained from the sale are the revenue of the funds for grants;
  • in the area of ​​self-sufficiency, there are significant changes compared to the existing scheme. Final customers will have to pay a network fee for all the energy taken from the network, and at the same time they will get paid for the surpluses;
  • in regard of spatial planning, the Act stipulates that planning bodies and network operators must take into account the promotion of RES in development and placement;
  • in the field of heating and cooling, in accordance with the directive, a sectoral target of RES has been set, namely an approximate 1.3% increase per year. One of the measures to increase the share of RES in this sector is a ban on the design and installation of boilers on heating oil and coal after 2023. For district heating systems, the goal is to increase the share of RES by 1% per year;
  • in the transport sector, the goal is to achieve at least a 14% share of energy from renewable sources by 2030, and the share in an individual year must not fall below 10%.

More information about the Act can be found here: https://www.energetika-portal.si/nc/novica/n/drzavni-zbor-podprl-zakon-o-spodbujanju-rabe-obnovljivih-virov-energije-4571/

In 2019, Slovenia also joined the EU Platform for Coal Regions in Transition. In 2020 Slovenia prepared a draft of the National strategy for coal exit and restructuring of coal regions. Submission for acceptance to the government of Slovenia of the strategy is scheduled for July 2021. The focus of the strategy is on the fair transition of two Slovenian regions, Savinjsko- Šaleška region and Zasavje region.

A fair transition strives for a fair and inclusive transition to climate neutrality, with minimal impact on employees and communities in the most affected regions. It requires a balanced approach to regional development and to address the various challenges and opportunities at the strategic level, while taking into account the interactions of all actors, policies and actions. The proactive role of stakeholders and social dialogue are key to a fair transition, as they ensure that no one is overlooked at all stages of the transition. Bottom-up stakeholder involvement also provides ownership and motivation to implement the coal exit strategy and related plans.

More information about the strategy can be found here: https://www.energetika-portal.si/dokumenti/strateski-razvojni-dokumenti/nacionalna-strategija-za-izstop-iz-premoga-in-prestrukturiranje-premogovnih-regij/


First CEESEU bootcamp held

From June 8th to June 10th 2021, Central and Eastern Sustainable Energy Union (CEESEU) held its first training bootcamp on “How to Develop Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP)”. The three-day workshop tackled a range of issues surrounding the development of SECAPs including the initial preparation process, political participation and stakeholder engagement as well as the administrative structures of SECAPs and data collection. A total of 20 municipalities from 8 countries were represented at the bootcamp.

On the first day, Andreas Karner from ConPlusUltra/Austria outlined the SECAP planning process, introducing the SECAP concept and then presenting a number of tools for the practical implementation of municipal energy and climate action plans (SECAP Excel Template and the Urban Adaptation Support Tool). He then developed on the SECAP planning and implementation process, which was followed by a break out session on good practice examples in development of municipal energy and climate strategies and action plans. This was an opportunity for the participants to create their own mini SECAPs. The day ended with a presentation by Miguel Morcillo from Climate Alliance on a SECAP Monitoring & Evaluation concept. Throughout the day, numerous surveys were conducted to assess the level of knowledge of the municipalities and their training needs. They revealed some of the main challenges municipalities face.

On the second day, the political dimensions & stakeholder engagement were examined including the practical implications of involving stakeholders. This was presented by Maja Bratko from the project partner MENEA from Croatia who has extensive experience accompanying cities in the SECAP process. This presentation included practical tips on approaching politicians and convincing them of the benefit of SECAPs. Alen Višnjić from MENEA then focused on a concrete example from Čakovec, outlining their SECAP development process.  After that, best practices from the region were presented, namely from Tartu, Warsaw and Zagreb. Following on from that, the theory of stakeholder engagement and the engagement of stakeholders in the SECAP processes was presented by Giorgi Davidovi. The day ended with a moderated discussion with experienced partners on how they engaged with stakeholders, the challenges they faced and the ways in which they overcame them.

On the third day, the administrative structures of SECAPs and data collection were discussed. The start of the SECAP process and the administrative structures within local authorities were presented by  Andrea Carosi from Climate Alliance. He then went on to outline the administrative structure for SECAP development and implementation, sharing a number of key recommendations with the bootcamp participants. After several group exercises on the potential difficulties encountered when setting up administrative teams, Miguel Morcillo from Climate Alliance elaborated on the necessary data for SECAP development and the main data sources. The bootcamp ended with concrete examples of existing tools for data collection and general conclusions.

The bootcamp was recorded and will be made available on CEESEU’s website for interested parties.


Last turn before going circular? Estonia is turning to the circular economy.

The challenges and interventions are framed by the goal of moving to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient circular economy by 2050. New EU Circular Economy Action Plan and Industrial Strategy means promoting the transition from a linear to a circular economy and significantly reducing the impact of climate change. Measures for that are part of Green Deal in Industry sector and are mainly contributing to the strategy "Estonia 2035" strategic goal: The Estonian economy is strong, innovative and responsible. Circular economy and resource efficiency is under Greener Estonia objective that one in five main objectives will drive EU investments in 2021-2027.

State budget strategy approved by the government in May 2021 the energy sector focuses on increasing the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency and ensuring security of supply the challenges of the measures for industry are similar to energy sector, except energy sectors focuses more on share of renewable energy and industry sector’s focus is more on energy efficiency and resource productivity. Main challenges for industry sector are not valuing resources and the lack of valuable resources from waste. For that reason, the focus will be transition on circular economy. Measures are in accordance with the 2020 report on Estonia that said: the need to invest in the circular economy remains significant, Estonia has low resource productivity and high domestic material consumption and waste generation hamper competitiveness. They largely coincide with what was stated at the beginning of the Interreg Europe project “Policies for Renewable Energy Sources in industry project” with acronym RESINDUSTRY (www.interregeurope.eu/resindustry/)

It will take at least half a year of meaningful discussions with stakeholders before final measures are announced and conditions set. It is said that measures will come out in 2022, but it is announced that the overarching goal of interventions is to facilitate the transition to a circular economy based on different levels of the waste hierarchy, to prevent and reduce waste generation and to create production and consumption patterns that consider the principles of sustainable design throughout the resource chain.

Based on existing measures such as improving energy and resource efficiency for enterprises and conducting resource audits the development of a resource efficiency measure, including energy efficiency, digitalization and automation, will be continued. Due the measure renewable energy equipment, such as PV panels on the roof, biofuel boilers, biogas production equipment etc., has been installed in many companies. The idea of support measure has been to look more broadly on resource productivity to achieve goals set as the just simple replacement from one energy source to another, even if renewable, is not solution for industry in 2020s. Additional measures are focusing waste and circular economy. Like the prevention and reduction of waste and packaging and re-use of products. And in circular economy direction the implementation of circular economy-based production and consumption models, including the goal to train at least 50 experts in the field of circular economy to boost implementation of measures and improve circular economy.

Source of photo: Uueduudised.ee

References:


Research on SECAP barriers conducted with municipalities and experts

In March, April and May 2021, interviews were conducted with municipalities and energy experts in an attempt to identify the main barriers confronting municipalities in the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP) adoption and implementation process.

7 city representatives from Tallinn (EE), Tartu (EE), Cakovec (HR), Prelog (HR), Ajka (HU), Budaörs (HU), and Chorzele (PL) were first interviewed via survey monkey and then in person. Their experiences revealed that in the whole SECAP process:

  • Some municipalities consulted other municipalities in their countries, others worked with consultants.
  • It is easier to exert influence at local level rather than national level.
  • Cities do not agree on whether the SEAP/SECAP targets can be reached.
  • Support of a local energy agency is very useful.
  • Interviewees stressed the importance of involving stakeholders.
  • Political will varies from country to county.
  • Access to finance is a recurrent problem.
  • Lack of know-how and human resources are major barriers.
  • Data collection and monitoring are key challenges across the board.
  • The problems faced in all four countries are similar.
  • Resistance appears greatest in Estonia where awareness levels appear especially low.

Next, 19 surveys were conducted with energy experts from energy agencies and institutes. Distribution: CZ 5, PL 2, RO 3, EE 1, HR 3, SI 1, HU 3, LV 1. These interviews revealed that:

  • There is some concern that cities may only be adopting SECAPs since these are financed by an EU project and they are not doling this out of genuine interest.
  • Energy costs and GDP play a significant role in determining whether SECAPs are pursued or not.
  • The general identity of a city is also of great importance.
  • Cities tend to copy each other and SECAPs can sometimes be a “trend”.
  • Greater awareness raising on the benefits of SECAPs is essential to increase their popularity.
  • Access to data and insufficient funds are major barriers.
  • The targets are difficult to meet for some municipalities.
  • The SECAP methodology is seen as a highly complex.
  • There is a language barrier as not all municipalities can work in English.
  • Competing strategies exist in a number of countries making it difficult to choose.
  • Funds should be coupled to the adoption of a SECAP (this means that only SECAP holders will be able to access certain funds).

This data was analysed and then integrated into the CEESEU bootcamp training materials, which took place from the 8th to the 10th of June on “How to Develop Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP)”.The interviews made it possible to better tailor the content to the needs and knowledge levels of the participants. Throughout the project, CEESEU will work with municipalities to try and overcome the barriers mentioned in the interviews and make SECAPs more accessible.


A huge solar farm will provide electricity for 25,000 households in Poland

One of the largest photovoltaic farms in Poland will be built in the Kleszczów municipality. One of thePGE Group companies is to be responsible for its construction, and the entire project has beenprepared in accordance with the plans of a fair energy transformation in the Bełchatów region.

PGE RES and the Kleszczów municipality have created a joint venture in which each of the entities has50 percent. shares. The special purpose vehicle, PGE Soleo1, will be responsible for the investment,which will build photovoltaic farms in the municipality, located on plots with a total area of 50 ha.The energy production of the entire 50 MW solar power plant is to amount to an average of 53 GWh. This is the amount that allows you to supply up to 25 thousand. households.

The contract with the Kleszczów municipality for the construction of a new photovoltaic farm is partof the Just Transformation Program for the Bełchatów Region implemented by the PGE Group. Itassumes the launch of a number of investments in low and zero-emission energy sources, which willgradually replace the Bełchatów Power Plant. In addition to launching a photovoltaic farm, the PGEGroup will also implement wind investments in the region and build energy storage facilities. InSeptember, the Competence Development Center will be opened, one of the main goals of which willbe to transfer knowledge and skills about renewable energy sources. Interestingly, this is not the endof PGE's investments in this region. There are also plans to build a wind farm as well as an energystorage facility.

The farm built by PGE in the Kleszczów municipality will be one of the largest in Poland. At themoment, the largest is located in the Witnica municipality, offering a capacity of 65 MW. An evenlarger structure is under construction in the Brudzew municipality, providing a capacity ofapproximately 70 MW.

 

Photo: Jasper Code / Shutterstock


Environmentally friendly public transport in Valmiera city (Latvia)

Valmiera city (Vidzeme region, Latvia) is committed to its moto – Evergreen city! Since the end of 2020 Valmiera’s streets have welcomed nine new diesel-electric hybrid buses with the tenth coming in 2022. Hybrid buses, painted in Gauja river golden sand color, use the produced energy to drive the electric motor, which allows to drive for a certain time with the engine switched off. This saves up to 30 percent fuel, as shown by test drives, as well as reduces emissions. The decision to choose hybrid buses was made by evaluating the route network of Valmiera city, the lengths of the trips, taking into account also the climatic conditions, as well as the possibilities to ensure the continuous provision of public transport services in Valmiera. Self-charging diesel-electric hybrid buses do not have a limited distance and do not require electricity charging infrastructure.

Valmiera municipality is involved in the CEESEU project and is committed to developing SECAP to reduce GHG emissions in its territory. The use of hybrid buses in the public transport network is an important step in reducing emissions in the city.

Picture from: Valmiera municipality


Larger cities in Hungary prefer solar and geothermal energy 

WWF Hungary conducted a short desktop research analysing the SECAPs of 12 bigger rural towns in Hungary. Results show that the overwhelming majority of cities would like to see new solar energy investments in their territory in the next decade. This is in alignment with the central government’s plans to boost solar photovoltaic power reaching up to 12 GW capacity - around two thirds of the total in the country - until 2040.

 

Geothermal and biomass are also popular: 8 and 7 out of the 12 surveyed cities, respectively, want to include these in their future energy mix. This is not surprising considering the significant geothermal reserves and biomass production capacity of the country.

 

What is more remarkable is that around one third of the cities would like to embark on wind energy despite the government’s clear negative stance effectively blocking new wind power additions in the country since 2009.

 

Only one city sees hydropower as a viable option in their future energy mix. Again, no surprise here as Hungary has no serious hydropower resources.