“We consume twice more than we need”, says energy expert

“Ukrainians consume two or three time more heat on a square meter than the Europeans do. This is a behavioral, organizational and technological issue”, – shares his experience Mr. Pavliuk, coordinator of an EU initiative “Covenant of Mayors” in 11 countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia.

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Svyatoslav Pavliuk coordinates an EU initiative “Covenant of Mayors” in 11 countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia. Covenant of Mayors aims at improvement of cities’ ability to develop and implement local energy efficiency policies in a way that enables to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to 20 % till 2020. In May 2014, more than 70 Ukrainian cities and towns have already signed the Covenant and work for reduction of fossil fuels and cities’ expenditures for energy procurement.

On European experience of sustainable energy use

De-facto Ukraine is in a state of war with its main gas supplier, which at the same time aims at occupying the territory where national Ukrainian energy resources are recovered. At the end of the year, we can find ourselves in a situation when we do have neither imported gas nor our own. For this reason, a main message of the forthcoming EU Sustainable Energy Week is going to be “If in October we have no gas, what are we going to do?” Providing heating this winter is an urgent question, which is to be discussed both on governmental and local levels. At the same time, ordinary citizens’ behavior and attitude are crucially important for more conscious energy consumption. EU sustainable energy week is an event that aims at attracting attention of both authorities and ordinary citizens to energy sphere and stimulating development of that in a right direction.

On wasting of energy resources

In Ukraine, lack of gas or high price on it could only be balanced with shortened consumption. Although EU member states develop actively alternative energy resources, even in their energy balance the lion’s share accounts for gas consumption. In Ukrainian energy balance, alternative energy resources’ share is too small to count upon it in the nearest future. Those resources should be developed for sure, but the substitution of traditional energy resources by the renewable ones could not be a main priority of state policy so far. In this regard, it is crucially important to understand that tariffs grow not because the real price of gas has grown but because the state subsidies are shortened. Price of gas stays the same, but the government is no longer able to subsidize citizens. We have already exhausted our backups, and we cannot afford ourselves to waste our resources any more. Taking a budget crisis into account, we should understand that government will probably not be able to subsidize us on the level that it had used to. Accordingly, we must change our behavior. We consume twice more than we do really need. We must understand that we just waste energy resources that cost a lot.

On ways of shortening consumption

Ukrainians consume two or three time more heat on a square meter than the Europeans do. This is a behavioral, organizational and technological issue. On the behavioral level, we must get used to switching off the water and light, closing the doors in the entrance halls in winter etc. From the organizational point of view, we must, for instance, renovate those doors, insulate the buildings, change old windows to hold the warmth etc. Technologically, we must modernize the heat distribution networks, heat-exchange units, air-interchange systems and so on. For instance, after a high-quality insulation, from 50 to 78% of electrical energy could be saved. While consumption reduction on 5% is a huge national project for the Danes, Ukrainians can easily reduce their consumption in two. We should not even call it saving but rather a fight against wasting. To such measures belong, for instance, insulation of buildings, administrative measures, energy management in cities etc. Moreover, citizens must keep a record of their consumption with the meters as well as reducing their energy consumption.

On outgivings on modernization and optimization of buildings

If we can afford ourselves to waste the energy, we are able to find money for necessary modernization. Gas costs equally for Ukraine and Poland, but the Polish consume twice and a half less energy for heating one square meter of living space. Obviously, it is not possible to optimize buildings for free. At the same time, we simply waste money for subsidizing the citizens, because those funds could be better spent on rehabilitation of buildings and, thus, invested in energy efficiency. Government must create conditions for lending money for insulation of buildings and develop the system of following credit reimbursement. Besides, majority of buildings need reparation anyway, and it is logical to combine that with insulation and other measures necessary for efficient energy consumption.

On popularity of the project “Covenant of Mayors”

Vast majority of Ukrainians live in cities, and the first to be blamed for cold buildings in winter are mayors of those cities. Since central authorities stay passive and there are no adequate state programs on energy efficiency, mayors must guarantee the space heating on their own. Energy saving on the local level is a free-standing project that releases multimillion funds, but in most cases there are no qualified city energy managers, who are able to coordinate the process. Thus, free trainings and professional consultation are valuable possibility for local authorities to solve the relevant problems.