The findings of an Assembly of European Regions (AER) energy peer review conducted in the region of Republika Srpska (BiH) were unveiled today at a debriefing in Brussels. Over the past two months, AER experts from the regions of Maramures (RO) and North Hungary have been preparing a report following their energy peer review in the region last July.
Biomass energy represents a huge potential in Republika Sprska. The region is a heavily forested and predominately rural area; wood and agricultural waste could therefore be used for production of heat and electricity while helping the region diversify its energy portfolio. As a locally sited and CO2 neutral resource, biomass would also contribute to local employment and allow regional authorities to endorse the Kyoto agreement, signed by the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina a year ago.
“There is low-hanging fruit out there, but unfortunately no one is picking it”, said Mario Djuragic, director of Republika Srpska’s representation in Brussels.
The need for more consistent legislation, improved logistical management of forests and an updated biomass recording system using digital or geographical information system databases were just some of the recommendations presented today by the expert team.
“The peer review was meant to offer an overview of the energy sector in Republika Srpska with a focus on existing opportunities to develop a biomass energy market”, explained Adrienn Buday-Malik, one of AER’s experts. “We believe that the region can use its rich biomass resources to generate a great deal of clean energy, and our report aims to highlight how these opportunities can be realised.”
Another AER expert, Adina Dumitru from the Maramures Local Energy Agency, added that “energy prices are kept low by the government. There is therefore no motivation for private and public consumers to invest in new energy efficient technologies. Furthermore, a majority of the population uses traditional heating systems while district heating companies use oil or gas and face a range of other problems related to the condition of their installations and lack of individual measurement of heat consumption.”
The experts’ final report aimed to provide the Republika Srpska authorities with a better understanding of the factors that make it difficult to produce energy from biomass in their region and to highlight various solutions to overcome these barriers.
“Of course, we should be realistic”, said Petar Jotanovic from the Republika Srpska Ministry of Energy. “One peer review is not enough to see changes rapidly occur in this sector. There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face. But AER’s report provides a good starting point for further action, and should be used as a framework for fostering real change. The implementation of a pilot biomass project will be part of this plan.”
The experts’ final report is available at the "http://www.aer.eu/main-issues/energy-policy.html" AER energy webpage. Justyna Podralska, AER Committee 1 (Economy and Regional Development) policy coordinator in charge of energy peer reviews, thanked the entire peer review team for their contribution, noting that: “the completion of the project would not have been possible without their valuable input.”
From 21 to 24 July 2009, experts from AER member regions conducted an energy audit in Republika Srpska (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. Through a series of meetings with energy stakeholders, namely market regulators, private investors and government officials, the peer review team tried to identify factors that may hamper the development of biomass-based energy production in the Republika Srpska. Financially supported by the Central European Initiative’s Know-How Exchange Program, the initiative was based on AER’s peer review methodology, established in 2006.
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