Building a solar collector for a family can be easy and cheap, biofuel cars can save the environment and money, and children can easily learn how to conserve energy at home. These and other ideas were promoted during European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) in Ukraine. The event is part of a pan-European initiative and was held by the EU Delegation to Ukraine and its partners between June 22 and 30 across Ukraine.
“It is very encouraging for us to see the active participation of Ukraine in this initiative,” said Walter Tretton, head of EU Delegation’s infrastructure and transport section, during the EUSEW opening ceremony in Zhytomyr. This participation shows that, “Ukraine is waking up to the enormous potential of the ‘hidden fuel’ of energy saving,” he adds.
The City of Sun, an exhibition of energy efficient technologies and activities, attracted children and adults alike to the EUSEW opening in Gagarin Park in Zhytomyr on June 24. Citizens could discover, for example, that building a solar collector by themselves is easy and fun: a small model of a collector was on display at the exhibition. This technology can be easily constructed at home and used seven or eight months a year according to Oksana Mayboroda, leader of the EU-funded project, Switch to Sun, Live with Comfort organised by Ecoclub, a Ukrainian NGO. Constructing a solar collector will cost a household only about UAH 3,000 (€250) and the investment will pay for itself in energy savings after about three years. Ecoclub created detailed instructions and regularly holds training sessions to teach groups of citizens how to construct a collector.
The sun is not the only source of green energy. Cars running on biofuel can make a difference too – a fact highlighted by a biofuel motor rally initiated by the EU-funded project, Support to the Transport Strategy of Ukraine. The rally, involving 15 cars running on biofuel, kicked off in Kyiv on June 22 and travelled to Zhytomyr via Bila Tserkva, Vinnytsia, and Khmelnytskyi, stopping at each city and sharing information about biofuels with local citizens.
All gasoline in Ukraine will have to be comprised of 5% biofuel starting next year, says Georgiy Chyzhov, one of the motor rally organisers. In some twenty years this proportion might reach up to 40%; however, even today some cars, including those participating in the motor rally, run on fuel containing 85% bioethanol, he says. Biofuel is cheaper and produces less greenhouse gas emissions, but it should be developed in a sustainable manner so as not to put too much pressure on soil and agriculture. Chyzhov suggests that Ukraine should draw from EU experience with fiscal stimuli for biofuel and use proper labelling techniques to help consumers make their choice.
The City of Sun also contained an attractive programme for children. Inspired by the EUSEW events, pupils from a number of Zhytomyr schools drew pictures outdoors on the pavement expressing their visions for how energy can be saved in their everyday lives.
Teachers can easily explain to children how to save energy at home, says Alya Shandra from Ecoclub Erumurus. The ecoclub is the national coordinator of SPARE, the largest international education project on energy and environment. She gives three major tips for saving energy at home: “Don’t take more than needed; Save electricity and water; and, Sort out your waste.”
Shandra adds that Ecoclub Erumurus is working with schools to introduce energy saving lessons into the curriculum and is developing texts on the subject. A solar stove made out of an aquarium and aluminium foil or a thermos made from household materials are easy examples of how children can learn first-hand about energy saving techniques.
“We want our people to pay a reasonable price for the energy they consume and to feel safe and comfortable in our city,” says Volodymyr Deboy, the mayor of Zhytomyr, which hosted the EUSEW opening event. The EU and other international donors are ready to help: the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership (E5P) decided to support Zhytomyr on two energy efficiency projects worth €6.5 million, says E5P Fund Manager Anders Lund. According to Magnus Rystedt, managing director of Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the objective of the initiative, “is not only to improve lives of the citizens of Zhytomyr, but also to show other municipalities in Ukraine that this is the way of the future.”
All the EUSEW events “will unite Ukraine with hundreds of activities in all member states of the European Union and around the world,” Walter Tretton says. He adds that Ukraine is capable of fully using its enormous “hidden fuel potential” through energy saving, cutting its gas bills substantially (5-6% of GDP) and saving up to half of the energy it consumes.
The Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine organised the European Sustainable Energy Week in Ukraine with PR partner Internews Ukraine, in close co-operation with its partners: energy efficiency projects funded and/or run by the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership (E5P) to which the European Union is the largest contributor, and Ukrainian municipalities. These actors presented their achievements in an interactive way and showed citizens how they can benefit from saving energy. Ukraine participated in EUSEW for the first time in 2011. This year the Ukrainian part of the EU-wide initiative was opened in Zhytomyr, on June 24.
EUSEW is an initiative of the European Union designed to spread best practices, inspire new ideas and build alliances to move toward efficient use of clean energy. The initiative’s goal is to form a bigger picture out of multiple individual efforts and to motivate change through a varied programme of events.
For more information, visit Ukraine’s European Sustainable Energy Week website: http://eusew-ukraine.com/
Volodymyr Yermolenko, Zhytomyr