Minus with a Profit
Vitebsk Oblast is the country’s leader in energy saving
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.
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.
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.