Plans and actions
Covenant of Mayors - Demonstration Projects (CoM-DeP)
The Covenant of Mayors has been active in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries since 2011, encouraging towns and cities to sign the Covenant and supporting them with planning and implementing energy saving actions. To date hundreds of Mayors have signed up and developed their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs).
Even small investments in energy saving can bring big rewards at the municipal level in terms of reduced energy consumption (and CO2 emissions), better local public services and also greater comfort for residents.
Covenant of Mayors planners within the European Commission (EC) wanted to demonstrate just how this can be achieved in EaP cities that are implementing SEAPs, so in 2014 they launched the programme ‘Sustainable Urban Demonstration Projects’, now known simply as ‘Covenant of Mayors – Demonstration Projects’.
The programme comprises:
- A grant component, with 17 projects (involving 19 local administrations) in phase I (2014-2019) and 14 projects (involving 15 local administrations) in phase II (2018-2021) whose municipal energy projects were awarded funding through a Call for Proposals.
- Technical, procedural, communication and networking support from a dedicated support team in Lviv, as well as technical assistance from the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Europe.
- Easier access to finance for investment in energy efficiency and renewable.
Encompassing inspiration from the demonstration projects, know-how from the Support Team and the JRC the programme aims to show all EaP municipalities that investing in energy efficiency makes sense.
The Covenant of Mayors Demonstration Projects initiative is designed to provide inspiration to municipalities across the EaP region. The municipalities that obtain funding not only carry out energy efficiency interventions in their towns and cities, but actively share their experiences with others, including the costs and benefits involved, the challenges they meet, and what municipalities should consider when trying to make their cities more financially and environmentally sustainable.
Municipalities in all countries in the region - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – were invited to submit project proposals through 2 Calls for Proposals, launched in 2014 and 2018 respectively. A total of 31 projects, many involving a partnership with civil society organizations, were selected: 17 in Ukraine, 4 in Moldova, 5 in Belarus, 3 in Armenia and 2 in Georgia. The projects encompass a variety of different energy efficiency interventions, involving a range of technologies, some of which we describe here.
Energy efficiency retrofit of public buildings
Many municipal buildings in the region were built at a time when energy was cheap and plentiful and climate change was not yet considered a major issue. Times have changed and heating public buildings has become very costly. In some cases, heating is not available at all, leading to very uncomfortable conditions for people using the building. In schools, poor heating has been identified as a major challenge; children cannot concentrate if they are too cold, and all too often they become ill and have to stay at home.
Relatively simple interventions, such as wall and roof insulation, and substituting draughty windows for double-glazed ones, can go a long way to keeping heat inside the classroom, saving on heating and making the learning experience much more pleasant and rewarding.
Slavutych (Ukraine), Cantemir (Moldova), Telavi (Georgia), Spitak and Vayk (Armenia), and Oshmiany (Belarus) among others, implement Demonstration Projects dealing with retrofitting public buildings.
LED street lighting
LED lamps and fixtures offer two main advantages over previous lighting technologies such as Mercury or Sodium lamps: reduced energy consumption and lower maintenance costs. Although LED lamps cost more per unit, they last a lot longer and consume much less energy, so investments in LED street lighting generally more than pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time.
Tight budgets in many EaP cities have made it difficult to finance the up-front investment needed to switch to LED street lighting. CoM Demonstration Projects in cities such as Polotsk and Beroza (Belarus), Sambir, Mena and Chernivtsi (Ukraine), and Cantemir, Ocnita and Calarasi (Moldova) use project funding for this initial investment. Importantly, they also fully document costs, savings and payback times, helping other cities to prepare more credible and ‘bankable’ proposals for banks, donors and other investors.
Energy consumption for heating and hot water in Ukraine is almost twice as high as in EU countries with a similar climate (UNECE, 2004) and the situation is similar in many other EaP countries. District heating (DH) systems and networks are often out-dated and poorly insulated and lose up to 30% of heat during distribution. Generally, coal-powered, DH systems account for 20% of total CO2 emissions and over 80% of methane from fossil fuels. Energy costs, artificially low for decades, are now crippling many municipalities, making investment in modernizing district heating systems a priority for reasons of both financial and environmental sustainability.
Zhovkva and Gola Prystan (Ukraine) and Festelita (Moldova) are among the eight Demonstration Project cities working on more energy-efficient heating systems.
Two former Soviet republics now in the EU are among the best performers in Europe in terms of renewable energy: in 2011 Latvia was 33% powered by renewables, while Estonia reached the 25% mark (Eurostat). All countries in the Eastern Partnership region have good potential for producing energy from renewable sources, including wind and solar energy. Falling prices for photovoltaic cells mean solar energy is a more affordable option for EaP municipalities and households.
The city of Yerevan, as well as the towns of Artik and Aparan (Armenia) are Demonstration Project cities fully focusing on solar energy, while also Festelita (Moldova) has a solar park component.
A dedicated Support Team based in Lviv, Ukraine, is on hand to assist Demonstration Projects both from a project implementation perspective (planning, managing and monitoring these energy efficiency actions, adhering to EU contractual obligations) and a technical perspective, covering the whole cycle from energy audit to completion of works. The Support Team also assists projects in documenting their activities and promoting good practice to other municipalities interested in making their cities more energy efficient.