The draft law on housing and maintenance of buildings defines improvement of energy efficiency as a matter of public interest, Jovanka Atanacković, assistant minister of construction, transport and infrastructure, said on Thursday.
This is the first time in Serbia that the sector is given such significance, she told participants at the national conference “Capacity Building on Energy Performance Contracting in European Markets in Transition” (EnPC Intrans project, funded by Horizon 2020 European Union Research and Innovation Programme). The event held in Belgrade was organized by the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SKGO).
Atanacković stressed the parliament is expected to pass the law soon. In the meantime, municipalities need more knowledge and mutual confidence to advance public-private partnership in energy efficiency, participants at the conference agreed.
Projects for energy services companies (ESCO) in areas of public buildings and public lighting dominated the topics at the one-day event at hotel Hyatt Regency Belgrade. It gathered local and international experts from EnPC Intrans project, altogether ten partners from nine countries from the region and the European Union.
Miloš Banjac, assistant minister of mining and energy, said energy managers would be introduced in local authorities by March or April. He added Serbia is on a right path in the field and that the completion of some projects could be expected in 2018.
He added the ministry and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development agreed on five local projects under ESCO model and noted that the ones in Vrbas, Vranje and Varvarin are approved, while the municipalities of Pirot and Veliko Gradište were waiting for the procedure to be finalized.
The tender for street lighting in Vrbas, published in June, was not successful, so the municipality is about to repeat the public call, Milan Glušac, president of Vrbas municipality told the conference.
Ankica Barbulov from Slovenian energy services company GGE, operating in Serbia and several other countries of the region, said there is a huge potential for energy efficiency improvements and energy savings in Serbia. However, challenges still remain, especially in municipalities and cities. “There is a lot of work in front of us, especially in educating local stakeholders about energy efficiency and creating realistic expectations from ESCO cooperation model,” in her words.
Local communities always say the concept is good but that they don’t have the money to go ahead, Miodrag Gluščević, a head of department for communal services, urban planning and environment at SKGO, told Balkan Green Energy News.
“There is money, it just has to be redirected. One of the ways is through the ESCO models we are discussing today,” he added. It is difficult to explain to people at the local level how the projects work and how it doesn’t drain the budget, but that it just dislocates money with a possibility of significant savings in the longer term, Gluščević stressed.