Printer Friendly

Fuel economies hold out a hope for Eastern Europe.

CITY scale energy efficiency demonstration schemes in the Russian Federation may well become the centre piece of a comprehensive global programme to restrict environmental pollution. The demonstrations are part of a three-year programme co-ordinated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) with help from Western industry to reduce the vast energy efficiency gap dividing Eastern and Central European countries from their Western neighbours. The UN's Economic and Social Council now proposes to widen the programme to make its benefits available worldwide.

Overall energy intensity -- energy consumption per unit of gross national product -- has been much higher in Eastern and Central Europe than in the market economies. According to an authoritative recent estimate published by the Colorado School of Mines, the former Soviet Union alone should be capable of saving in all types of energy the equivalent of a staggering 12m barrels of oil per day.

The 1973 and 1979 oil price rise shocks which have fuelled the development of energy saving techniques and services in the West were not experienced by the Soviet Union and its European satellites. Their industries were protected by their collective wealth in primary energy resources supporting ideologically inspired price subsidies which in turn encouraged inefficiency and pollution.

Today, the same countries are undergoing painful transition to market economies, facing steep energy price rises at the outset of winter as well as widespread consequent hardship and social unrest. But the prospect of substantial energy economies offers them a solution.

Their efforts now to catch up with the energy efficiency standards of the West could indirectly benefit many rapidly industrializing poor countries by providing them with a useful development model.

Eastern and Central Europe faces 'many of the same energy problems as the developing countries', comments the influential Washington-based World Resources Institute in an important recent analysis. 'They too face sharply increasing energy demands, with the resultant increase in debts, capital constraints and growing environmental threats. The efficiency with which energy services are provided is well below that achieved in the rest of the industrialized world, and thus energy efficiency creates attractive opportunities in these countries'.

Increasing the energy efficiency does not mean that energy supplies are reduced nor that energy services are cut off. Rather, the energy required to provide a given service is reduced by improving the efficiency of that service, for example by providing refrigeration with more efficient compressors. This stretches the effect of power supplies.

The energy required to make steel has been two to three times greater in Eastern and Central Europe than in the West. The same is also true for the integrated steel plants in India and China, which are among the biggest steel producers of the developing world. The Institute reckons that with proper design and operation many new industrial plants in both the developing and the transition economies could reduce fuel consumption by 30 per cent or more and achieve even greater savings using state of the art industrial processes.

The energy sector bears a major responsibility for environmental problems in Eastern and Central Europe, concludes a study published by the World Bank. Pollution has reduced life expectancy in Russia from 70.4 years in 1964 to 69.3 years in 1990, adds the first comprehensive report on the environment compiled by Moscow. In some badly polluted cities, life expectancy has shrunk to 44 years.

Probably the most dramatic component of the ECE's Energy Efficiency 2000 programme is the mounting of city-scale demonstration projects in Russia under the authority of the Ministry of Fuel and Energy and the Ministry of Science, Higher Education and Technical Policy.

In Tushino, a Moscow suburb, the housing and service sector buildings serving 100,000 inhabitants will be rehabilitated by the end of 1994. A new town for a community of 25,000 inhabitants will be developed on a green field site at Severnij, another suburban region of Moscow, by the fourth quarter of 1996. And at Voronovo, near Moscow, a collective farm community of 5,500 which manages 15,000 head of cattle will improve the energy efficiency of its building infrastructure and adopt more environmentally benign technologies for its farming operations.

These projects are accompanied by a long series of specialist meetings drawing participants from the energy industry in many countries throughout the region and beyond. There are schemes to enhance trade and co-operation in energy efficient and environmentally sound technologies and power demand management practices largely through contacts between businessmen, trade officials, bankers, engineers and managers.

A wide variety of useful information services are being compiled. They include lists of prominent individuals in relevant enterprises, banks and government departments; a data bank on legal instruments, grants, subsidies, loan schemes, energy labelling and technical standards; descriptions of environmental pollution control and abatement procedures; and analyses of current pilot and demonstration projects for energy savings in buildings, industry, agriculture and transport.

One recent series of business development seminars brought together by the ECE energy efficiency programme in Jonkoping, Sweden, attracted senior participants from 15 countries representing more than 100 commercial enterprises, government departments and agencies. The meetings provided opportunities for personal contact between 100 top East and Central European specialists from enterprises serving a market with a combined population of 250 million people and 200 West European development bankers as well as businessmen representing companies with a total turnover in excess of $13bn.

The event took place at the premises of an international trade fair displaying energy efficiency and environment protection technology. The $150,000 expenses of the event were largely met by contributions from industry as well as the Swedish government's trade development and technical assistance programmes.

Forthcoming international meetings organized by the ECE will concern electricity generation (Geneva), power station refurbishing (Ankara), industrial training (Romania), and renewable energy (Geneva).

The energy efficiency demonstration programme involves far more than just the introduction of new technology. The Severnij project, for example, will show how new houses and communities can be designed and built for greater energy efficiency by introducing the concept of a new way of life in a region accustomed to high energy consumption under the direction of a rigid central planning system.

Apartment blocks, factories, hospitals, schools, hotels and other buildings throughout formerly communist-dominated Europe will need to be converted to provide consumers with the means to regulate and control their energy use for the first time. The products needed for this process may be imported from Western companies or, in the longer term, manufactured locally under licence, possibly in former military factories.

Experience gained at Tushino and Severnij will have implications for the rehabilitation of existing high-rise apartment blocks and the construction of modern new towns throughout Eastern and Central Europe. The results of the Voronovo project can be applied to thousands of similar industrial scale farms in the Russian Federation and many more elsewhere.

All three projects will focus on the measurable effects of market economy energy conservation policies and the introduction of energy pricing, tariff structures, energy management, auditing, metering and monitoring techniques. Ultimately, the greatest challenge will be the implementation of these innovations and their adaptation to local circumstances, enabling individual consumers to exercise greater choice in using increasingly expensive energy more efficiently.

The three demonstration projects are funded by the Russian Federation and managed by local authorities concerned with infrastructure construction involving hundreds of domestic companies including former defence industries. Some research and training institutions, government departments and commercial enterprises in the United States, Austria and Denmark are already involved; and discussions are under way with others in Canada, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and elsewhere in the West.

ECE support for the programme includes the identification of potential donor organizations, sponsors, multilateral lending institutions, banks and business concerns. Manufacturers demonstrating their energy efficiency products participate in the programme on a promotional basis.

Tushino is a typical suburb of Moscow. The capital consumes 28bn cubic meters of gas, 2.4m tons of oil and 1.6m tons of coal a year. Energy production efficiency levels are low, transmission facilities are poor and consumers lack understanding in savings. An estimated 40 per cent of Moscow's power consumption could be saved through the introduction of the full range of efficiency measures commercially available in the West.

The demonstration area comprising 150 apartments and related service sector buildings is similar to many other dreary city suburbs throughout Eastern and Central Europe. The lessons taught by the exercises will be therefore applicable on an enormous scale.

One of the main energy efficiency improvement projects at Tushino will be the modernization of four existing boilers and 23 heat exchangers at a gas fired local power station (cutting fuel consumption by 20 per cent).

Other schemes include the introduction of control and measuring devices to perform commercial accounting between energy suppliers and consumers, the establishment of a domestic heat metering production facility, the provision of a variety of thermal insulation for buildings and the installation of three-phase temperature regulators in apartments as well as electric lighting control systems and automatic timing devices.

Severnij new town will be a technologically oriented community of 340 hectares divided roughly in equal shares comprising housing, commercial business premises and municipal buildings. The area is sufficiently separated from other Moscow suburbs to make the project an autonomous town planning and construction exercise. A very wide range of building and infrastructure development schemes in the area will demonstrate the scope of energy efficiency in design techniques, construction, maintenance services and operations.

Construction plans at Severnij include a gas fired combined heat and power plant and heat distribution network as well as a hospital, a retirement home, a boarding school, a technical college, a business centre and hotel complex, a techno-park for architects and the building trade, shops, commercial offices and product exhibition facilities. The existing inadequate electricity, natural gas and hot water distribution networks are being extended. The new housing units are being equipped with modern cooking stoves as well as home heating equipment burning a variety of fuels and enabling residents to exercise a high degree of choice in their energy consumption.

The Voronovo demonstration area consists of a farm, housing units, administrative buildings and a rest home. It covers 6,000 hectares of arable land and produces milk, potatoes and other crops.

The programme is expected to yield annual energy savings of 1,000-1,500 tonnes of oil equivalent. There are about 6,000 similar farms in the Russian Federation alone which could benefit from the present efficiency demonstrations and achieve enormous potential energy economies by adapting similar techniques. The experience from the Voronovo project could also have an impact on crop producing farms of which there are scores of thousands in the country.

The programme focuses on the demonstration of new technologies enhancing energy efficiency in food production and cattle breeding through the reconstruction of a farming complex and the utilization of agricultural wastes. New construction projects in the programme include the erection of a gas/oil fired boiler system, new housing units, a communal garage, bath and laundry centre, a forage shop and a sports hall. The thermal efficiency of all existing buildings and installations is being improved. Control systems and monitoring equipment are being installed to account for energy consumption in each building.

Next year, the ECE's regional approach to promoting energy efficiency is expected to be widened through co-operation involving all the UN's economic commissions to culminate in a global programme. The scheme based on the promise of the European experiment will proceed under the direction of a steering committee and ultimately address such global issues as transboundary pollution.

'All countries,' says the ECE, 'can draw advantage from enhanced energy economy and efficiency in terms of reduced investments in energy supply infrastructure, reduced dependence on energy imports, reduced strains on the balance of payments, delayed depletion of scarce energy reserves and stimulation of indigenous technical competence and industrial capacity ...

'Energy is a major source of atmospheric pollution, but need not be. Energy efficiency can significantly reduce environmental degradation.'

|Thomas Land is an author and foreign correspondent who writes on global affairs.~
COPYRIGHT 1993 Contemporary Review Company Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Land, Thomas
Publication:Contemporary Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:The Victorian Archbishops of Canterbury.
Next Article:Sierra Leone: the world's poorest nation.

Related Articles
Brown to meet Obama in Washington.
Brown to meet Obama in Washington.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters