In view of the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Week, we are trying to find out how much solar energy Belarus produces and how the European Union supports solar energy in Belarus.
According to some scientists, solar may become the main energy source within the next 20 years. Over the last ten years, the European Union has started producing and consuming 50 times more solar energy, and is expected to increase production by another third in 2018.
Despite receiving just 30 days of sun per year, Belarus has followed the example of its European colleagues. Now, solar energy is the trend in Belarus. In the last few years, the country increased its solar energy production by 70 times, from 0.4m MW per hour in 2013 to 28m MW per hour in 2016, not including solar power stations belonging to businesses. This energy is enough to supply a small Belarusian town with energy for a year.
The European Union supports Belarus in its transition to solar energy. In the framework of the EU4Energy initiative, several EU-supported projects are taking place to help schools, kindergartens and hospitals convert to renewable energy sources.
The EU4Energy initiative aims to improve energy supply and promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the Eastern Partner countries, including Belarus. This way energy becomes cheaper and more affordable for citizens, state-run establishments and businesses.
In Hrodna Region, the "Development of Renewable Energy Sources in Navahrudak District - Road map for Ecological Clean Area" project has been running for the last three years in the framework of the EU4Energy initiative. As part of the project, solar panels are being installed on the same site as Belarus’ first wind park to produce electricity and heat for the district’s hospital. Navahrudak hospital will become the first medical establishment in the region to use solar energy.
Energy produced by the 121 square metres of solar panels will heat the water for the maternity ward, which consists of 25 beds and a maternity welfare clinic. The total costs of the project amounts to €240.000, out of which the EU is financing 90% and the Novahrudak district council is financing the 10% of the costs.
Unlike schools and kindergartens, hospitals need larger quantity of hot water, which must supplied non-stop. The new installation will provide a stable supply of hot water for the ward, which will be heated with sustainable energy sources. This will save the hospital €8,000 in utility bills each month. Two heat pumps will produce heat when there is not sufficient energy from the sun.
The hospital's solar power station is the largest and the most powerful in the district. It is six times more economic to install solar panels than to simply install new windows.
Tamara Malukha, head of the maternity ward in Navahrudak district hospital, says: " I am happy that this project is implemented here: the department will have a stable and uninterrupted supply of hot water, heated with solar energy, the patients and doctors will be comfortable and the hospital will save money on energy bills."
Anastasiya Kivach, a mother-to-be and patient at the hospital, says: "It is great that the hospital is taking care of our future generation and adopting European practices. This motivates me and my family to save energy at home as well."
After the project ends, the hospital is planning to install solar panels to produce their own electricity, as well as to install energy efficient double glazed windows. Thanks to this, the establishment will save money on electricity bills. The hospital administration is hopeful that this project will set an example for other hospitals and polyclinics in the country.
This and other activities planned by the EU-supported project have the goal to assist the regional executive authorities and local community to develop their accumulated experience in introducing renewable energy sources, which will help reduce the burden on ecology in the district. The project will also assist with the development of a Renewable energy development strategy until 2020 and road map in Navahrudak district. These documents would allow the local authorities to plan new activities and apply for funding from various sources.
The projects under EU4Energy initiative also help educational establishments to start using clean energy sources. For instance, thanks to the “Energy Efficiency in Schools” project, four educational establishments in Belarus now have solar panels, new windows and insulated walls and roofs.
Thanks to EU financing, solar panels were installed on the roof of the kindergarten in Braslaw within the framework of the "Braslaw District - the first climate neutral municipality in Belarus" project.
The transition to clean energy sources is the theme of this year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week. The event will be marked by a series of events all over Europe. These include Energy Days, aimed at promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. Energy Days will be organised in countries across Europe, including Belarus. You can learn more about the EU Sustainable Energy Week at: http://eusew.eu
Author: Anton Rodnenkov