Mi­nus with a Profit

Vitebsk Oblast is the coun­try’s leader in en­ergy sav­ing

Economy of Belarus - - YEAR OF FRUGALITY - Olga BOGACHEVA

In H1 in Vitebsk Oblast the en­ergy sav­ing in­di­ca­tor was mi­nus 5.1%, while the H1 and an­nual tar­gets were mi­nus 3% and mi­nus 7% re­spec­tively. About 109,200 tonnes of fuel equiv­a­lent was saved. More than Br3.7 tril­lion from all sources of fund­ing was uti­lized over the six months un­der the Vitebsk Oblast en­ergy sav­ing pro­gram, in­clud­ing about Br7.9 bil­lion al­lo­cated from the national bud­get. How did the re­gion man­age to per­form so well when its en­ergy con­sump­tion and gen­er­a­tion are the high­est in Be­larus?

Penny Saved is Penny Gained

En­ergy sav­ing is a top pri­or­ity, first of all, for com­pa­nies them­selves.

Take, for in­stance, util­ity ser­vices. “Boiler houses op­er­ated by util­ity ser­vices are switch­ing from nat­u­ral gas, which is bought us­ing for­eign cur­rency, to lo­cal fu­els. They are in­ex­pen­sive and cheaper to trans­port, so the mod­ern­iza­tion ex­penses will pay off in three to four years,” says Ana­toly Su­dak, head of the pro­duc­tion and tech­ni­cal depart­ment of the hous­ing and util­ity ser­vice of the Vitebsk Oblast Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee.

Ac­cord­ing to him, six heat gen­er­at­ing units with the to­tal ca­pac­ity of 18MW will switch from nat­u­ral gas to lo­cal fu­els this year. They are boiler houses in Glubokoye, Gorodok, Ros­sony, Tolochin, Chash­niki and Shu­milino. The to­tal in­vest- ments are es­ti­mated at Br42.4 bil­lion. So far, new equip­ment has been sup­plied to all the towns and will be put into op­er­a­tion by the be­gin­ning of the heat­ing sea­son on 15 Oc­to­ber. The new boiler houses are ex­pected to help re­duce nat­u­ral gas con­sump­tion by 16 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters a year, hence sav­ing over Br40 bil­lion in lo­cal bud­get funds. In the fu­ture, five to six boiler houses will be con­verted an­nu­ally.

The hous­ing and util­ity ser­vice is also in­creas­ing the use of milled peat. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, milled peat is al­most thrice as cheap as nat­u­ral gas. It is note­wor­thy that con­ver­sion of power gen­er­at­ing units to milled peat is im­ple­mented in ar­eas lo­cated in the vicin­ity of peat ex­trac­tion sites. For in­stance, Dubrovno has two units run­ning on milled peat. Tolochin will see a sec­ond boiler house con­verted to this fuel in 2013.

It is note­wor­thy that lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal com­pa­nies ac­quire about 40% of fire­wood and chipped wood on their own thanks to the well-de­vel­oped lo­gis­tics. This is an­other ex­am­ple of a thrifty at­ti­tude, be­cause this way com­pa­nies do not need to spend funds on the pur­chase of nat­u­ral gas and trans­porta­tion of lo­cal fu­els.

“As for the share of lo­cal fu­els in the fuel and en­ergy bud­get, Vitebsk Oblast has been the ab­so­lute leader for the third year in a row,” Ana­toly Su­dak notes. Thus, in H1 in Vitebsk Oblast lo­cal fu­els ac­counted for 57.1% of all fu­els. Only Mogilev Oblast man­aged to come closer with its 48%. By the end of the year, lo­cal fu­els in Vitebsk Oblast are ex­pected to ac­count for 68.7% and by 2015 their share should reach 75% of the fuel and en­ergy bud­get.

Among other pow­er­ful en­er­gysav­ing tools are co­gen­er­a­tion units. One unit has al­ready been com­mis­sioned in the cen­tral boiler house in Le­pel. An­other one will be put into op­er­a­tion at the Dolomit boiler house in the Ruba town­ship near Vitebsk this year. Co­gen­er­a­tion units can gen­er­ate si­mul­ta­ne­ously 2MW elec­tric power and 2WM heat power which is enough to meet elec­tric­ity needs of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties and to pro­vide the whole town­ship with hot run­ning wa­ter. Un­con­sumed power goes to the Viteb­sken­ergo net­work via an au­to­mated con­trol and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem where it is re­dis­tributed to other mu­nic­i­pal fa­cil­i­ties. The to­tal cost of the pro­ject is Br36 bil­lion, of which 20% comes from the state bud­get and the rest is bor­rowed. It is ex­pected to pay off within two years which tes­ti­fies to the high ef­fi­ciency of the pro­ject.

In­stal­la­tion of en­ergy sav­ing lamps with photo acous­tic sen­sors for out­side il­lu­mi­na­tion is also be­lieved to re­sult in ma­jor sav­ings. In Jan­uary-July, over 13,000 lights were in­stalled in the re­gion (the de­mand is es­ti­mated at 52,000 lamps). The in­stal­la­tion is car­ried out in all the re­gions, but No­volukoml has been demon­strat­ing the best re­sults so far. To­day all the houses of the town are equipped with sen­sor lights and me­ter­ing sys­tems which help achieve sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy sav­ings.

Another­promis­ing­pro­jec­taimed at cut­ting en­ergy con­sump­tion and im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity is be­ing im­ple­mented in Novopolotsk. To­day this is the only town in Be­larus with an open scheme of hot wa­ter sup­ply when wa­ter pu­ri­fied at the Novopolotsk ther­mal power plant is used both for drink­ing and heat­ing.

Af­ter the pro­ject is com­pleted, the houses will be pro­vided with arte­sian wa­ter fully com­pli­ant with san­i­tary and tem­per­a­ture stan­dards and heated in elec­tric wa­ter boil­ers lo­cated in the same build­ings. 139 out of 186 res­i­dences have been con­nected to the closed wa­ter sup­ply sys­tem. When com­pleted, the pro­ject is ex­pected to gen­er­ate sav­ings by re­duc­ing the amount of wa­ter pumped through the heat sup­ply sys­tem hence sav­ing funds spent on wa­ter trans­porta­tion and treat­ment. In 2012-2013, over Br10 mil­lion was in­vested in the pro­ject.

Plus Ecol­ogy

It goes with­out say­ing that no de­tail is in­signif­i­cant when it comes to en­ergy sav­ing. Ev­ery pro­ject that helps cut ex­penses is im­por­tant. And projects that also help im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment are even more so, says Alexan­der Kravchenko, head of the Vitebsk Oblast depart­ment of man­age­ment of fuel and en­ergy re­sources. One of them is the pro­ject to in­stall three bio­gas plants run­ning on land­fill gas at mu­nic­i­pal solid waste cen­ters. They pre­vent meth­ane from get­ting into air of neigh­bor­hood towns. In ad­di­tion to be­ing highly in­flammable and ex­plo­sive, this gas has a very strong un­pleas­ant smell.

Swedish Vireo En­ergy is in­vest­ing about $3 mil­lion in each unit. The re­turn on in­vest­ments is ex­pected within seven to ten years.

The first bio­gas plant was launched in Or­sha in Novem­ber 2012, an­other one with the 1MW ca­pac­ity was put into op­er­a­tion at the mu­nic­i­pal solid waste cen­ter near Vitebsk last March. Over the first four months of its op­er­a­tion more than 1.7 mil­lion kWh was gen­er­ated with the eco­nomic ben­e­fits amount­ing to Br1 bil­lion. In 2014, a mini-ther­mal power plant run­ning on bio­gas will be launched in Novopolotsk.

Elec­tric power gen­er­ated from bio­gas is in­cor­po­rated into the sin­gle en­ergy sys­tem of Viteb­sken­ergo. By the way, one unit of green en­ergy is 30% more ex­pen­sive than the con­ven­tional one ac­cord­ing to Res­o­lu­tion No. 100 of the Econ­omy Min­istry of the Repub­lic of Be­larus as of 30 June 2013 “On tar­iffs on elec­tric power gen­er­ated from re­new­able sources”. This is ex­pected to in­crease the in­vest­ment ap­peal of re­new­able en­ergy projects.

Fru­gal Think­ing

Ev­ery­one is fa­mil­iar with the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of fru­gal­ity at home. As for the in­dus­trial sec­tor, th­ese prin­ci­ples trans­late into timely mod­ern­iza­tion projects aimed at the gen­eral re­duc­tion of en­ergy con­sump­tion and the share of en­ergy in the prime cost of prod­ucts. Th­ese projects should in­volve the lat­est tech­ni­cal achieve­ments al­low­ing for con­sid­er­able en­ergy sav­ing. Only in this case will the fi­nan­cial in­vest­ments pay off. The com­pa­nies Naf­tan, Polot­sksteklo­volo­kno, Viteb­sken­ergo, No­volukoml Ker­amzite Gravel Fac­tory and Keramika are a case in point.

Oth­er­wise there will be no tan­gi­ble re­turn. “To give an ex­am­ple, three years ago a set of en­ergy sav­ing mea­sures was de­vel­oped for one of the state-run com­pa­nies of Vitebsk Oblast with a view to cut­ting en­ergy con­sump­tion by more than four­fold. How­ever, the head of the com­pany chose an­other path that ac­cord­ing to him was less costly. And he was wrong. Now he is back to square one and has to spend even more funds to solve the same prob­lems,” says Alexan­der Kravchenko.

How­ever, this ex­am­ple is rather un­com­mon for Vitebsk Oblast. The sum of Br2.3 tril­lion set aside for lo­cal en­ergy sav­ing projects has been by far sur­passed. This means that peo­ple know where to find funds to bring down en­ergy and heat con­sump­tion fast, how to cal­cu­late the re­turn on in­no­va­tions in the long run and re­mem­ber a pop­u­lar say­ing that a cheap­skate pays twice.

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