How Zhovkva is becoming an energy efficient city and is refusing from gas

Thanks to the implementation of several energy-saving projects in the city of Zhovkva with the population of 13 thousand people, which is 30 km far from Lviv, it was possible to significantly reduce gas consumption. According to the outcomes of last season, 45% of the heat in the city was received from alternative sources during the winter period by burning crushed wood.

After completion of the planned energy efficiency measures, this indicator will increase up to 60%.

In Zhovkva, they actively work with the community to cultivate a culture of saving resources and they are even ready to reimburse up to 70% of the cost of energy-efficient measures, provided that the inhabitants create housing cooperatives and initiate the process.

The city has managed to attract more than a million Euros of financial support from the EU for energy efficiency projects. Today, it is almost two annual budgets of Zhovkva.

Over the past few years, the city has started implementing three large projects using the EU funds.

As part of these programs, they conducted energy audits on more than 30 buildings, replaced part of the old heating network, re-equipped boiler plants for solid fuels, finished thermal modernization of two kindergartens, equipped an energy efficient classroom in the school, and so on.

A map is placed on the premises of the Zhovkva City Council, which lists all energy-efficient measures that have been implemented over the past few years. In order for the work to be consistent, the post of energy manager was introduced back in 2013.

The map shows all the works on thermal modernization

Energy efficiency course

Zhovkva was one of the first cities in Ukraine to sign the “Covenant of Mayors”. This initiative encourages local self-government to reduce consumption of energy resources and decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

“Within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors, they have drawn up a strategic plan for the development of the city in the energy sector, in particular the Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development until 2020.

Since 2012, local authorities have had the opportunity to engage experts in energy efficiency from Germany. As a result, they decided to leave and modernize the centralized heat supply system, but to move towards a reduction in gas consumption,” says Oleh Masniak, Technical Consultant for Energy Efficiency Projects in Zhovkva.

Petro Vykhopen, City Mayor, was the initiator of the strategy. According to the mayor, the main reason for the development of energy efficiency was a narrow problem, in particular an outdated centralized heat supply system and worn-out gas-fired boilers.

In 2011, Zhovkva became a member of the Association “Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine”.

Within the framework of the program, German experts selected 5 residential buildings and analyzed the possibility of their integrated thermal modernization. The conclusions were negative – there was no legislation ready in Ukraine at that time; there was no clear owner of the building, land and adjacent territory. However, such cooperation encouraged local authorities to seek further energy-efficient solutions.

“We set ourselves a strategic goal, which is still relevant today and which is to convince residents of apartment buildings that they attract funds and conduct a complete thermal modernization together with the city,” emphasizes Petro Vykhopen, Zhovkva City Mayor.

Since then, systematic work has begun in the city to increase energy efficiency.

“There was such a unique story in Zhovkva – the mayor dismissed one of the deputies in order to employ an energy manager. A person was elected to the post by a competition of proposals concerning the things that need to be changed in the city. We have many cities that deal with energy efficiency and raising investment. Successful are the cities that do it continuously,” mentions Sviatoslav Pavliuk, Executive Director of the Association “Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine”.

Boiler houses using wood

In order to optimize the heat supply system in Zhovkva, one of the gas-fired boiler houses was transferred to the reserve and one more was closed.

“The strategy was to bring all boiler houses together into one network. But there was a problem, because the heating system had to pass through the central part of the city, which is a monument of architecture”, says a technical consultant.

There was already a boiler in one of the boiler houses, which worked using wood waste. Within the framework of the project, two more were installed and the plans are to install one more, twice more powerful boiler. The equipment has already been purchased. This will allow transferring the third gas-fired boiler to the reserve, leaving only two large ones in Zhovkva.

The heating system is connected to the Internet and the director can remotely monitor all processes and adjust the parameters.

Approximately 60% of heat for a centralized system will be received from boiler houses working on crushed wood

“Everything is automated at the boiler house. The computer has a SCADA system installed that controls all parameters. An operator intervenes only in the event of a malfunction,” says Oleh Masniak.

Fuel is fed automatically. In a special bunker, the crushed wood is loaded with a loader, which uses the conveyor to be moved to the boilers.

There is a reserve gas-operated house near the solid fuel boiler house. It is automatically activated only during periods of severe cold. However, the capacity of this boiler house will suffice to provide the heat to all consumers in the event of an accident at the main boiler house.

If earlier the share of wood heating at this boiler house was about 15%, then, according to the outcomes of the first heating season, it was 93% already. Last winter, about 500 thousand cubic meters of gas were saved only at this boiler house.

“The technical solution offered by the Europeans is that if we have a gas-fired boiler house, then we do not need to transfer 100% of new capacity to use wood,” mentions Oleh Masniak.

A feature of Zhovkva is that there are many wood-processing enterprises around the city, and energy crops, from which they make pellets, are grown in Lviv region.

There are also chopping units at the boiler houses, which transform the branches of trees that are brought down here during the season into fuel.

Save centralized heating

About 30% of Zhovkva residents have central heating, the rest – individual. Thus, the main consumers of centralized heat supply were the inhabitants of old houses and almost all budget-sustained institutions.

The total length of the centralized heating system in Zhovkva is about 6.4 km. In the framework of the project, which was implemented in partnership with the East Europe Foundation and the city of Sambir, about 4.4 km of old heat networks were replaced in Zhovkva. The service life of new insulated pipes is 50 years. Heat losses have decreased significantly.

“If you previously walked in the city during the twenty-degree frost, you could see where the heating main was located. The heat loss was up to 30%,” says Andrii Buchko, Communication Manager for Energy Efficiency Projects.

Individual heating point

In addition, they installed 11 individual heating points (IHP) in residential buildings and budget-sustained facilities. This allowed regulating the heating depending on the outside temperature.

“The installation of a part of individual heating points was initially not included in the project. Instead, a trip was planned for several inhabitants of the neighbourhood in Germany to take over the experience. But they realized that the decision, who is going on a trip, would be subjective. Therefore, the funds were spent on the purchase of 4 IHPs for residential buildings,” emphasizes Oleh Masniak.

During the season, they saved about UAH 250 thousand only due to IHP in Zhovkva.

After completion of the modernization of another boiler house, about 60% of heat for the centralized system will be received from boiler houses working on crushed wood already next season.

Warm kindergartens

Over the past few years, two of the three kindergartens have been fully subjected to thermal modernization in Zhovkva. They have restored the operation of ventilation systems, replaced the heating system and installed renewable energy sources at these facilities.

“Among the 25 institutions, they selected one pilot institution, in particular Kindergarten No. 1. The building was subjected to complete thermal insulation and a heat pump that heats the premises with the energy of the land was installed,” says Oleh Masniak.

Thanks to the integrated thermal insulation of the kindergarten, it was possible to save about UAH 100 thousand over the course of the year

The gas-fired boiler house, which had previously heated the kindergarten, was left, but it is switched on only during periods of peak colds. Last winter, it worked only a few days in winter.

According to Oleh Masniak, if in the previous years about 20 thousand cubic meters of gas were used for heating the kindergarten, then last year there were only 800 used for heating and about 3 thousand for the needs of the kitchen. Thus, they managed to save over UAH 100 thousand throughout the course of the heating season.

At kindergarten No. 2, in addition to the integrated heat insulation of the building, they restored the ventilation system with the recuperation, installed an individual heating point, LED lighting, replaced the old slate roof with metal profiles and installed solar collectors on the roof.

Solar collectors are installed on the roof of the kindergarten

“Water in the boiler, which is used for household needs, is heated in winter by the heating system, and in summer – by solar collectors. In addition, there is an electric heater, which is used when there is not enough sunlight” says a technical consultant.

Heat tariff for residents decreased by 10%

As a result of the introduction of energy-efficient measures at all institutions, the microclimatic conditions have significantly improved. However, the heat tariff for residents in residential buildings decreased by only 10% – the legislation prohibits it to be decreased more.

According to the legislation, the tariff for heat energy from alternative sources for residents is set at 90% of the tariff for heat generated from natural gas.

Energy-efficient technologies are being implemented by the city and the maintenance of the majority of budget-sustained institutions in Zhovkva, including payments for utilities, is financed from the raion budget. Therefore, the city does not receive direct benefits from the introduction of energy-efficient measures.

The city council is convinced that after the creation of an amalgamated territorial community on the basis of Zhovkva, the residents will benefit from the energy saving measures implemented – the money saved can be spent on continuing the implementation of energy-efficient measures.

“If we were able to spend the money saved at the kindergarten by means of thermal modernization, for example, for the purchase of desks, then the effect would be more appreciable. Currently, these funds are redistributed to other facilities,” emphasizes Andrii Buchko.

Heat insulation of apartment buildings

According to the mayor of Zhovkva, about 70% of heat loss occurs at apartment buildings.

“We save heat, save gas, but the strategic plan to convince residents to keep the heat in their buildings has not yet been completed,” admits Petro Vykhopen.

The main obstacle, says the mayor, is subsidies. The people receiving them do not have the financial incentive to invest in energy-efficient measures.

This year, the city council decided to reimburse 70% of energy efficiency costs for homes in order to stimulate the inhabitants.

“We have 160 apartment buildings on our balance sheet. If residents are ready to create housing cooperatives, the city council will reimburse 70% of the funds for any energy efficiency measures. We want the residents to monitor the quality of work themselves, look for executors,” the mayor mentions.

The annual budget of this program is UAH 2.5 million, and the maximum amount of compensation for one building is UAH 500 thousand.

According to the mayor, if such applications will be more than 5, then the residents of these buildings will be waiting for the next budget year, or deputies of the city council may vote for an increase in the expenditures.

“We adopted this provision in spring, and it is September now, we do not have any applications from the residents of the city. They expect the city to do it,” admits the mayor.

Today, in the city with the population of 13 thousand people, there are only 18 housing cooperatives and they are mainly in new buildings.

“As soon as the energy efficiency fund starts operating, we will implement a demonstration project together with the German fund – an apartment building in the center of Zhovkva will be one of the first 20 in Ukraine, which will be subjected to the complete thermal modernization. Terms will be the creation of a housing cooperative and the accumulation of a certain amount of funds,” mentions Petro Vykhopen.

Demonstration class of energy-efficient technologies

We equipped a classroom at one of the local schools, where we demonstrated a number of energy-efficient technologies, including a mini-solar power plant, a wind generator, water aerators, etc.

“We tell several times a year about energy efficiency at natural science lessons. We came with lectures at a kindergarten. We organize various events even for adult residents of Zhovkva,” says Oleh Masniak.

Using the funds of the EU, we made repairs in the classroom, replaced the windows with energy-efficient ones and installed heat recuperators. In addition, heat reflectors were installed behind heating radiators; we procured methodical equipment, in particular thermal imager, thermometer, hygrometer, posters with a description of energy-efficient measures, construction sets.

We equipped a classroom at one of the local schools, where we installed a mini-solar power station, a wind generator, water aerators, etc.

The solar power station is equipped with a charge controller, inverter and battery. We arranged a “green” socket from this power plant that can be used.

“We bring children from other areas to this classroom, combining educational activities in the classroom with excursions to the historic part of the city. In this classroom, they hold different methodical events, seminars for teachers of the whole Zhovkva raion,” says Andrii Dvornikov, Zhovkva City Council Energy Manager.

In addition, a multimedia board and a projector are installed in the classroom; new desks, chairs and a laptop are purchased.

The cost of upgrading the energy-efficient classroom was over UAH 270 thousand.

Educational work

Within the framework of the project “Smart Energy Consumption for the Welfare of the Communities in Lviv Region”, they conducted energy audits on all 25 budget-sustained institutions, 5 – municipal residential buildings and power grids in Zhovkva. They also determined an action plan that needs to be taken in order to save energy resources.

“We are working with people, promote them to create housing cooperatives and encourage introducing energy-efficient technologies at their buildings. We have developed recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency of residential buildings. The conclusions include a list of energy-efficient measures, their cost, calculation of savings and the payback period”, says Svitlana Pidsosna, Energy Efficiency Project Coordinator in Zhovkva.

Every day, Zhovkva conducts the Days of Energy to promote energy-efficient measures among residents and increase environmental awareness. They organize exhibitions of energy-efficient technologies, where they invite producers for the residents to be able to get relevant knowledge. One of such events will be held on 30 September as part of the City Day celebration.

The modernization of the heating system and buildings as well as educational work with the residents was not the end in the city of Zhovkva. The city mayor sets bold goals, namely to achieve complete independence from energy resources.

“Today, we produce only heat from alternative sources at boiler houses. With a German partner, we begin to realize that Europe has moved further. Delitzsch town in Germany produces more electricity than the community needs. Today, cities need to think how to use natural sources, in particular the sun, wind, heat of the earth, sewage, to generate additional electricity”, summed up the mayor of Zhovkva.

The article was originally published on Economic Pravda