Banja Luka, Republika Srpska (BiH), 24 July 2009
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) conducted a four-day energy audit in the Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina-BiH), with the aim of assessing the region’s potential to produce electrical and thermal power from biomass resources, including wood, agricultural and municipal solid waste. Financially supported by the Central European Initiative’s Know-How Exchange Program, this initiative is based on a peer review methodology, established by AER in 2006.
As a region lacking important gas resources, yet covered by many rural areas and forests (47% of the territory), Republika Srpska seeks to diminish the extensive use of electricity by developing alternative energy productions technologies. It is estimated that some 800 000 m3 of wood might generate approx. 100 Gwh of green power a year. However, this potential is not harnessed in a proper manner. Much of the biomass waste is exported instead of being utilized in a domestic market.
The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in May 2008 opened an opportunity for Bosnia and Herzegovina to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, mobilize resources for low-carbon technologies and contribute to the green development of the country. However, this requires essential legal and technological capacities that BiH has just started developing. The establishment of a regulatory framework supporting the country’s biomass market will send a strong signal to international stakeholders and potential investors that the country is ready for implementing the Kyoto Protocol.
Through a series of meetings with actors concerned with energy matters, namely market regulators, private investors and government officials, experts from AER member regions (Maramures (RO), North Hungary and Friuli Venezia Giulia (I)) and AER representatives tried to identify factors that may hamper the development of biomass-based energy production in the Republika Srpska. These interviews aimed at spotting potential problem areas, such as:
– Legislation discrepancies with regard to the collection, disposal and removal of wood waste (legal obligation to clean the forest)
– Cost-efficiency of the energy production and supply chain (i.e. accessibility to forest, access to electrical grids, investment cost versus prizes for biomass-based energy production, structure of heating systems)
– Database availability and reliability
Furthermore, AER experts visited different sites, such as the woods managed by the Regional Forest Authority; a local sawmill; pallets and biodiesel companies; fruit growing manufactures, and a municipal waste disposal centre.
The report outlining the AER expert team’s conclusions will be issued at the end of September.
The objective of the peer review is to provide a host region with relevant expertise in a particular area. Peer review experts use a specifically designed benchmark to help identify strengths and weaknesses of region’s key strategies and policies. The project’s costs are shared between the AER and a host region. In most of the cases however, AER seeks extra financial assistance for the smooth functioning of this type of initiatives.
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