Introduction of market prices of energy is one of the conditions for energy efficiency. Aside from that, it is necessary to charge people for the energy they actually consume, heating energy in particular, which would result in large savings. These are the conclusions from the yesterday's conference on energy efficiency and use of renewable enrgy sources, which was organized in Belgrade by Business Info Group.
Opening the conference, Serbian Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Milutin Mrkonjic pointed out that energy and mining were top-priority branches for development in Serbia.
- We have not been investing in the energy sector for a long time, not even one energy facility has been built over the last 25 years, and the interest of foreign companies in investing in Serbia proves that the energy sector is what we have to invest in over the next few years - said Mrkonjic.
Mrkonjic added that the government was determined to invest in the energy sector and that significant investments in renewable energy sources were expected in 2012.
Mrkonjic said that the complete legal framework for the use of renewable energy source was finished and that a new energy development strategy until 2030 should be prepared until the end of the next year.
It is interesting that Serbia currently generates 21.2% of energy from renewable sources, which is above the European average of about 20%.
Speaking about energy efficiency and energy investments, Ambassador of Denmark Mette Kjuel Nielsen stressed that the price of electricity in Serbia was the main obstacle to the development of that sector.
As she added, as long as the price for electricity is a political price, many energy efficiency projects will be unfeasible and renewable energy will not be competitive.
- One of the most effective measures Serbia could undertake would be to move from calculating energy bills per square meter over to a metering system where people are asked to pay for what they actually consume. As long as consumers are not charged for what they actually consume, there will be no incentives to save energy. There will be no incentives to neither change behaviour nor invest in increased insulation or energy efficient pumps, thermostats, windows etc. Why should anybody think in these directions if the result is the same: you pay for your neighbour’s consumption – or you heat for the birds?
I see a growing awareness also at local/municipal level of the need to look at green growth / energy efficiency and a number of steps in the right direction are taken. The law on building regulations in new buildings is a good step.
As she pointed out, Serbia is still one of the least energy effective countries in Europe – both in households and industry; with one of the highest energy consumption per produced unit in Europe.
Speaking about the cooperation between the European Union and Serbia in the energy sector, Adriano Martins stressed that the EU had donated about EUR 2.5 billion to the Serbian energy sector to date.
As a representative of investors interested in investing in renewable energy sources in Serbia, Mark Krendal said he agreed with the ambassador of Denmark, underlining again that Serbia could neither make any progress in the field of energy efficiency nor attract serious investors without market prices because "the prices give a wrong signal to both consumers and investors."
Krendal, representative of the company Continental Wind Partners (CWP), which is in the process of developing a wind farm in the municipality of Kovin and has a great experience in building wind farms in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Australia, complimented Serbia for being the only country in the region to define the purchase price in euros, thus giving a security to investors, but it still did not calculate inflationary risks into that price, which was necessary to be done in the future. Krendal, as one of the members of the Serbian Wind Energy Association (SEWEA), invited representatives of the governments to work with investors in order to make them feel safe and invest in the implementation of their projects in Serbia
Jovan Petrovic, director of the Provincial Energy Efficiency Center in Novi Sad, shared an interesting information that the replacement of two regular 100W bulbs with energy-saving bulbs by 3m households in Serbia would lead to saving about 480MW of power, which is more than the current installed capacity of Serbia's oldest steam power plant - Kolubara.
For that reason, Elektrovojvodina has decided to give energy-saving bulbs to its regular payers as a gift.
Good examples from Denmark
Ambassador of Denmark Mette Kjuel Nielsen also gave a small illustration: When the Danish Embassy decided to become a green Embassy, through small measures like changing to energy saving bulbs, and turning off lights and air cons when we were not in a room etc., we managed to cut our electricity bills by 30% within the first 10 months.
- We also installed thermostats that work, and bought a new and modern gas furnace to replace the old one.
- In Denmark we began to think about energy efficiency and green energy in a serious way some 35 years ago. Since 1980 the Danish economy has grown by approximately 70% while energy consumption has remained virtually unchanged. Household energy consumption in Denmark is lower today than in 1973 - she explained.