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Belarus

Belarus, with few indigenous energy resources, relies heavily upon its neighbors, mostly Russia, for its energy supply. Since the early 1990s, prices of imported energy have increased substantially. Consequently, energy conservation and efficiency has become a high priority on the government’s agenda as a means for reducing dependence on imported energy. To address this problem the government of Belarus has developed a set of new policies and programs.

For establishing and implementing energy efficiency policy, the Belarusan government established the State Committee on Energy Savings and Control in 1993 (in 2001 the SCESC was renamed the Committee on Energy Efficiency). The Committee is responsible for drafting new laws and regulations on energy efficiency and implementing energy efficiency policies and energy efficiency targets set by the Government of Belarus. It has a central office with 37 staff in Minsk, 7 departmental offices with 19 staff each, an engineering center, and a consulting company. In particular the Committee is responsible for implementing the government’s National Energy Savings Programme. It supervises the work of regional, local, and state government enterprises and manages government funds earmarked to catalyze energy efficiency investment. The Innovation fund managed by the Committee is the main financial source of energy efficiency activities, accounting for approximately US$30 million per year. The fund can provide grants (100% for state-owned organizations and enterprises, up to 50% for private enterprises) or favorable loans with low interest rates. The committee also sets and enforces energy consumption targets for different economic sectors and business categories and has the authority to penalize malfeasants.

In 1996, the government of Belarus adopted the "Energy Saving Program for the period to 2000," which was elaborated by SCESC. Between 1996 and 2000, US$370 million was invested in energy efficiency measures under this program. The energy-saving activities were focused on installation of energy metering devices, rehabilitation and replacement of old boilers, and investment in research and development of new energy-saving materials and technologies. According to the national government, the program resulted in a 25 percent decline in the country’s energy intensity. A successor program was adopted in 2001 to cover the 2001-2005 period. The short and long term national targets of the new program are:

  • Securing GDP growth without an increase in energy consumption until 2005
  • Reaching energy intensity on the level of developed industrialized countries by 2015

In 2001, the World Bank initiated the Social Infrastructure Retrofitting Project. The project aims to improve operation of public sector facilities, such as schools, hospitals, orphanages, and community homes for the elderly and disabled. Prospective energy conservation measures include installing efficient lighting systems, refurbishment of windows and roof insulation, repair of heating supply equipment and associated distribution networks, and installation of energy management control systems. Over 900 buildings have been audited, and up to 550 will receive financing for energy efficiency measures. The total cost of the initiative is US$40 million, of which the government is providing 45%, with the rest from the World Bank. It is estimated that annual savings after full implementation of the project will amount to US$5 million. Project details are given in the following table:

Package

Measures

Cost
(Million $US)

Annual Savings
(Million $US)

Payback Period
(years)

-

1. Renovation of district heating piping networks through heat exchanger replacement

4.0

4.44

4.8

2. Window refurbishment or replacement

0.2

3. Lighting system rehabilitation

10.5

4. Boiler reconstruction

6.6

Above Plus:

1. Double-glazed window replacement

2.1

0.23

21.3

2. Roof insulation/renovation

0.6

3. District heating network renovation

2.2

-

Demonstration projects (multiple measures)

3.0

0.11

27.0

Other

Project planning, project contingencies

11.2

-

-

Whole Project

-

40.4

5.0

8.1

In 2000, under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Energy Efficiency 21 Project, energy efficiency demonstration zones in the, Borovljany, Kedyshko and Vitebsk regions were created. The project supports local municipalities’ initiatives for energy efficiency in automatic heating control systems, reconstruction of district heating systems, retrofits of street lighting, and conversion of heat-only boilers to co-generation plants. Total investment costs of the project are estimated at about US$30 million.

With a combination of domestically and internationally funded programs, Belarus has demonstrated substantial improvement in its energy intensity. However, there is still much to be done to realize the energy efficiency goals set in the country’s national program. A major incentive in promoting energy efficiency projects is reduction of the country’s energy dependence. This factor is gaining increasing importance due to the anticipated rise in natural gas prices, which Belarus currently obtains from Russia at substantially discounted levels (compared to other neighboring countries).