The Lepoglava Prison has become the first prison in Croatia to use renewable energy for heating. Starting this month, the green prison will be using wood chips instead of fossil fuels. This is considered the very first step towards introducing the use of wood biomass into public institutions.
The Forest Biomass, a subsidiary of the Hrvatske šume company, has signed a contract with Lepoglava Prison and delivered the first 1,000 tonnes of wood chip for heating, worth some EUR 50,000.
„By switching to renewables, the prison will reduce energy bills and generate significant savings. It will also remove 900 tons of CO2 from the environment. At the same time, it will improve the prisoners’ living conditions,” Marko Klobučar, director of The Forest Biomass told Balkan Green Energy News portal.
Since this is the first delivery to the prison, and the prison is the first public institution that has started using wood chips for heating, the amount needed for the entire season is not known yet. It will also depend on the length of the cold period.
„Of course, the first delivery of 1,000 tonnes is not enough for the whole season. During two previous months, the prison was still using fossil fuels. They have just switched to biomass, in December”, Klobučar said.
The assumption is that 2,000 – 2,500 tonnes of wood chips could cover the entire heating season.
“The most important thing is that the prison will use 100% wood-fueled heating system. Fossil fuels will come in rescue, only and exclusively in case of defects or incidental power overload“, explained Klobučar.
„With all this in mind, we really have the first green prison here“, he added.
Lepoglava prison is the oldest prison in Croatia, located close to Varaždin. The building that still accommodates main prisoners in Croatia, used to be a monastery and in 1854 was transformed into prison by the authorities.
With the greening of Lepoglava, the Croatian Ministry Agriculture together with the Croatian Forests and the Forest Biomass set a common goal to start developing a national wood chip market and use it to heat hospitals, schools, kindergartens and other public facilities.
“We want to reduce the export of wood chips so that Croatia would keep all benefits of using this oldest renewable energy source,” Klobučar emphasized.
Croatia is energy dependent country. It imports some 55% of energy. Over 66% of public buildings (owned by the state, counties, municipalities and cities) use fossil fuels – oil, gas, coil. On the other hand, Croatia has natural forests of high quality, thus it should be using its own resources and switch to circular economy, Klobučar concluded.