What is needed to become energy independent? How to make small hromada energy efficient? Stanislav Ihnatyev, founder of the Kharkiv energy cluster, knows that these problems can be solved even within the current difficult conditions. The main thing is the desire and creativity.
The Energy Efficient Village Project was recognised by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Council of Europe as the best energy efficiency project, implemented in rural settlements. The project won the “Best Practices of Local Self-Government” competition in 2015, and in 2016 it was recognised as the best social energy efficiency project, implemented in Ukraine.
Vesele village in the Kharkiv Oblast as the first energy efficient hromada
The hromada of the Vesele village in the Kharkiv Oblast, which borders with the Russian Federation, has a population of 1,800 people. This small hromada shared its initiative regarding eight different projects. Stanislav Ihnatyev says that they have managed to fully provide the hromada with local energy resources.
“As the next step we built a 1.2 mW solar power plant for the village. The station gives energy to illuminate the school, kindergarten and village club. We have also set up LED-based lighting of 5 km of the street. This is the first hromada that can be seen from outer space! This innovation belongs to a Kharkiv resident. There are batteries under each pillar, dug-in more than two metres deep, so that nobody ever thought to steal them (laughs). The battery capacity is about 24-25 years – that’s what we are assured of.”
One more step is a local outpatient clinic. It is also a completely energy independent building. It has a heat pump that heats the whole system.
We can be independent from fossil energy resources
According to the last year data, 90% of the international technical assistance provided for energy efficiency in Ukraine is not used. This year’s figure will probably be even smaller.
What was the transitional stage like?
“We organised public hearings. It was a trouble, especially when a German company willing to make wind generators came, the local grannies were strongly opposed to all this... The hromada is not too eager to change. And here the stance of the village head was very important, who step by step made proposals to the hromada so that the residents began to accept those innovations.”
The problem is that people have no incentive to take money. When they feel that motivation in the hromada – everything will happen in a different way.
Ukraine has a biomass market. It is even being sold on the stock exchange. At this moment, there is a great need for wood chips.
Biomass is an inexhaustible resource. Ukraine can also export it and earn.
Stanislav Ihnatyev says that during industrial forest cutting there remain lots of branches, leaves and even fir branches. Therefore, trees’ processing can produce up to 40 mWh of electric energy.
What should hromada do to become energy independent?
“A desire is necessary. The village head must fill out the project application. There are currently a lot of projects that can be implemented in hromadas. Unfortunately, hromadas simply do not want to do it. In my opinion, people inherited this unwillingness from former collective farms. They simply do not trust, they think, that money should be returned, they are afraid of cooperation. Hromada should have a strategy. Noone will give funds, if there is no strategy.”
Alternative energy sources are not a future, but already a present! The use of biomass, heat pumps, solar batteries is something that allows not only to save money, but also produce less harm to the environment. For any hromada it is a good way to develop, since budget money can be used to repair roads, schools, hospitals and not for energy maintenance of communal buildings. Moreover, foreign partners help in transition through grants. Therefore, only desire and initiative are needed.
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