How Ukrainian cities are to cut energy consumption by 20%

How the European Union helps Ukrainian cities reduce energy consumption by 20% while spending almost no own money on it, and establish efficient monitoring of energy consumption in small cities across the country

For four years, the European Union has been helping Ukrainian cities reduce energy consumption without spending own funds. In these circumstances, the approach to energy efficiency among the townsfolk changes, and local authorities establish departments concerned with these matters.

In Ukraine, 239 cities have already joined the European Union’s initiative Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The Covenant’s key objective is to have cities in Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) join the pan-European movement aiming to reduce СО₂ emissions by 20% by 2020 and by 30% by 2030.

This result can be achieved both by reducing energy consumption and by switching to alternative sources of energy. These methods attain especially contemporary significance amid the constantly growing energy prices.

At the same time, the European Union is well aware of the limited capabilities that budgets of small cities have. Therefore, they have allocated over 13 million euros to finance implementation of energy efficiency and energy conservation projects in Ukraine by 2020. Cities with population under 200 thousand thus received the opportunity to win a grant for implementation of these projects. Besides financial assistance, the cities were offered technical support for implementation of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs).

These projects came first, and were intended to show other cities why energy efficiency measures should be implemented. That’s why they were called “demonstration” projects.

The EU could finance up to 80% of the project’s costs, and the rest had to be covered by municipalities or the broad public.

All these projects were intended to increase energy efficiency of municipal infrastructure via:

  • thermal renovation of buildings;
  • modernization of central heat supply systems;
  • reconstruction of outdoor illumination systems.


How to convince Ukrainians to invest in insulation of their homes

The most telling were the projects in 17 Ukrainian cities, including a small city of Dolyna in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. There, energy consumption was reduced by 20% in three years, even though that was the target for 2020.

In 2015, when the EU-financed project went underway, Dolyna’s municipal authorities faced the task of thermo-renovating 30 out of the 100 apartment buildings, and by raising funding among the dwellers of those buildings at that, for that was an obligatory condition for the disbursement of the European grant.

So, how could that be achieved? The folks in small cities tend to be conservative and not inclined toward experiments, and Dolyna’s population was just 20 thousand. The locals held a firm belief that their property ends where the apartment’s walls stand, and the rest of the area is the responsibility of the city authorities.

That’s why the city authorities started with analyzing energy performance of the buildings. An energy audit center was established on the basis of a local communal enterprise. The center’s specialists audited buildings for their residents, free of charge. They came to the meetings with residents of apartment buildings, bringing thermal imaging results and calculations of financial costs of heat loss. Over 40 such meetings were held during the first half of 2015 alone.

By that time, many dwellers have already made fragmentary insulation of walls in their apartments and could not understand why they had to spend money on insulating the entire building. So, they had to be shown calculations to prove that such a thermal modernization actually destroys the building.

The first open contest among apartment buildings in 2015 featured representatives of 15 out of the city’s 100 apartment buildings, although the share of funding provided by the dwellers in the total amount of the project’s financing was only 20%. Representatives of the city authorities helped the participants gather documents required to apply for the grant. 13 of those 15 buildings became the winners. The most active were those where an association of apartment building co-owners was created.

In 2018, the number of modernized buildings reached the target figure: 30. However, once they saw real savings their neighbors had, residents of another 20 buildings began queuing for a financed insulation, even though financial terms were now less favorable: the required share of funding provided by the residents has increased from 20% to 40%. It wasn’t discouraging, because people saw the project’s effectiveness for themselves. The city authorities just had to encourage their initiative as regards acceptance of group applications and development of projects.

The experiment has resulted in not only thermal insulation but also an efficient methodology, a roadmap for other cities. On top of that, Dolyna received from this project professional specialists in energy efficiency.


Not by housing alone

Various Ukrainian cities have their own experience in using European grants under this program. In Kramatorsk, for instance, they modernized substations for the city’s electric transport. In Zhmerynka, they thermo-modernized two schools and two kindergartens. The outdoor illumination system was reconstructed in Mena, a city in the Chernihiv Oblast, by installing almost a thousand and a half of LED lamps, upgrading networks and launching energy monitoring of street networks.

A school and a kindergarten were thermo-modernized in Slavutych. In the kindergarten, they replaced windows, insulated walls and installed a new ventilation system with recuperation. In addition, the city was able to save EU funds on procurements, which were used to replace lighting systems in both institutions. It was only a portion of advantages. While the project was underway, an energy management department was established in Slavutych. The department’s specialists monitor energy consumption of all municipal institutions and provide recommendations where changes need to be made first of all in order to fulfill the commitment concerning reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions.

In Hola Prystan (Kherson Oblast), the EU program helped not only carry out an energy efficient thermal rehabilitation of a school and a kindergarten but also thermal modernization of the school, the kindergarten and the boiler plant that supplies heat to them.

Presently, the first phase of the EU program “Covenant of Mayors — Demonstration Projects” in Ukraine is nearing an end. The program’s second phase started this year. Six Ukrainian cities participate in it: Chernivtsi, Dubno, Myrhorod, Sumy, Ukrainka and Hnivan.

These cities will be able to draw on the experience in implementation of similar projects and on the schooling of specialists in thermal efficiency and energy conservation.


By Maria Chubata

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