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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Respect the alternative!

Because of imperfect energy policy Ukraine loses the possibility to save about 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas
27 April, 2010 - 00:00
Photo from the website integratedpowerresources.com

Experts assure they don’t see any significant reasons for Russia’s concession other than the wish for more strategic preferences. Valerii Borovyk, head of board of the Alliance “New Energy of Ukraine,” supposes that in exchange for their gas, Russians want to negotiate the prolongation of the stay of the Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine after 2017 and establish an energy consortium which will substantially increase the presence of the Russian Gazprom on the Ukrainian market. However, experts believe that charging the Russian operator with the modernization of the home “gas pipe” means that the Ukrainian budget strategically can lose a potentially greater amount of profits than it will gain in the short-term.

Therefore experts say that in solving the gas problem one should be very cautious not to lose strategic battles. “Without increasing our energy dependence and yielding strategic positions, the government can decrease the price of the imported Russian gas by at least 100 dollars for a thousand cubic meters,” says Borovyk, “and yielding them – by half.”

However, there is one more aspect of decreasing gas dependence which is still largely ignored in Ukraine. The strategy of energy development of Ukraine by 2030, which was adopted in 2006, is, in fact, focused on the development of nuclear energy potential, and ignores alternative kinds of energy. “The indicators of alternative energy taken into account in our energy strategy are archaic by European standards,” states Borovyk.

Experts single out that Ukraine should initiate changes in the energy strategy as soon as possible. With active and coordinated efforts by the state government, experts and public committees we can cope with the revision of the country’s strategy plan for half a year. First of all changes are necessary in the part dealing with the prospects of alternative kinds of ­energy development.

The head of the Association of alternative kinds of fuel and energy participants of Ukraine Vitalii Davii states that if there were a will on behalf of the higher state authorities, Ukraine could already be saving from one to one and a half billion cubic meters of natural gas at the expense of biomass energy. One should only convert boiler houses of the communal sector to using wood, straw, and other agricultural remnants. The factors which are an obstacle for this innovation, according to the financial expert, are not significant – the absence of the will to change being the most important. “Having accomplished just some organizational transformations, a number of housing and communal services, which today ‘complain but continue eating the cactus,’ can pay 200-300 thousand hryvnias instead of 1-1.5 million hryvnias during the cold season,” states Davii. That’s the amount of money, according to the expert’s calculations, necessary for buying chips and wood shavings. Davii is confident that there will be no problems with these resources. In view of the stagnation of the construction sector, the state forest sector will sell this product to alternative fuel consumers with pleasure.

Regarding the price for such alternative energy projects for Ukrainian housing and communal services, experts say it is very small compared to other infrastructure reforms. For example, the payback period of adjusting one house serving a city with the population of 40-50 thousand people, so that it can use biomass, is 1.5-2 years.

The projects using solar energy are not less interesting and energy efficient. They are widely used today in the south of Ukraine: cottages, hotels and entire settlements based on solar energy are built. However, so far all projects of the solar “alternative” are local. The obstacle for more extensive use is the deficit of land. Though soon this obstacle will be overcome, too. According to the information of experts, negotiations between Ukraine and Japan are being held about supplying our market with flexible photo-plates which can be mounted on the roofs of buses, other vehicles, or transport pipelines.

By Alla DUBROVYK, The Day