A Sunny Future for Tuzla report

A Sunny Future for Tuzla (July – December 2006)

Short presentation of the project

Project name: A Sunny Future for Tuzla (Sunčana budućnost za Tuzlu)

Project goals: The goal of the project is to demonstrate the achievable potential of renewable energy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in particular that of introducing solar technologies to the citizens of Tuzla, with the two target groups: building-experts/amateurs and ordinary citizens, and beginning development for a market demanding such technology and services.

Project outcomes:

  • 1 workshop series (3 workshops, total of 6 days) for a total of 63 participants
  • 2 completed solar-collector systems, one permanently installed at CEETZ and the second as a mobile demonstration model
  • 13 public exhibitions (total of 94 days on display) around the whole canton, including at ten schools (about 2550 visitors), one regional fair and two local exhibitions
  • 1 seminar (1 day) for 27 participants
  • 1000 flyers on solar energy usage and promoting the goals of the project
  • 250 DIY handbooks in Bosnian language (79 pages) and the text in English, in electronic form for wider distribution
  • General energy assessment for Bosnia and Herzegovina (14 pages)
  • Further dissemination of the topics through media work, including interviews/broadcasts/reports at various levels (local, cantonal, federal and national) and various outlets (newspaper, radio, TV and internet)
  • Important elements for the basic parts of a solar-technologies market, based on knowledgeable building-experts who can supply services to an informed citizenry who demand those services
Development of the project

Project activities

The core of this project was the construction and installation of two solar collector systems during a theoretical and practical workshop series (3 workshops, 6 total days, 63 total participants) and its presentation in a one-day seminar (27 participants) and at thirteen public exhibitions (94 total days, 2549 visitors to 10 schools, a couple thousand at the regional fair and a few hundred at the local exhibitions).

The other side of the project involved information dissemination through publications and the media. Promotional leaflets were designed and 1000 copies printed out for distribution. Likewise a comprehensive and instructional handbook covering a range of topics (global energy situation, renewable energy, energy efficiency and construction/installation of DIY solar collectors) was designed in both English and Bosnian languages, with 250 copies of the Bosnian version printed for distribution. Afterwards, research was conducted into the current Bosnian energy situation and a general assessment written, outlining the important points. On the media front, interviews, broadcasts and reports were made about the project’s goals and activities at all levels from local to national, and in various formats (newspaper, radio, TV and internet).

RES – Renewable Energy Resources, ED- education and education materials, EPOL – energy policy, OFF – official or administrative work

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Analysis and critical assessment of results achieved by the project

One of the largest setbacks involved the energy assessment. So much of the information was quite hard to come by. The country’s administration still remains fairly partitioned along ethnic/entity lines, meaning that in many cases, one must repeat the same research procedures at several locations to get an overall, countrywide perspective – there are three electric companies none of which seem to update their sites that often, and often have conflicting information with the few national-level reports that do exist. Simply put, the energy sector of BiH is highly disorganized, and the only sector that has any resemblance to an orderly system of regulation and information access is the electricity system, and even that has far to go before it attains EU-type standards; gas or heating information in particular is quite difficult to come by. This wasn’t a major problem in any substantial sense, but nonetheless frustrating in terms of collecting and making sense of the information that was available. As far as can be determined, regulatory bodies are in development for the gas and heating sectors, but any kind of a definite timeframe for when these bodies will actually be functional, much less efficient and easily-accessible, remains an open-question.

However, it definitely can be said that the project objectives were undeniably achieved, and for the most part even exceeded. We planned only for 10-12 participants at each workshop/seminar, but we always had more than that and in some cases triple the number expected. Similarly, the project itself called only for a single public exhibition, in which we expected a few hundred people to visit; by combining this project with the activities of another energy project we were able to promote the project and its goals at nine additional locations, letting us spread the concept to several thousand more people than we’d originally planned. Finally we were able to produce 100 more of the handbooks than we’d planned simply by shopping around a bit more for print shops, instead of just going with our regular company.

Analyzing the actual impact of the project is obviously a more difficult question to answer. We can hope that some of the people who saw our solar panels at the exhibitions or read the leaflets/handbooks will go out and actually build their own. One participant successfully used the knowledge he gained from our workshops and materials to help in the work towards his master’s degree. We do know of at least two who are planning to switch their own homes to solar-heating, and one who will alter his company’s services to heavily promote solar-heating. We also know that several people, especially workshop participants remain very eager to switch to solar energy themselves due to what they learned in the workshops.
Additionally, we’ve had visits and phone calls from numerous interested people who’d neither participated in the seminars nor visited our exhibitions, but only heard about our project and its activities through the considerable media coverage we’d achieved, contacting us from as far away as Mostar. Considering that solar energy was a virtual non-topic in BiH beforehand, and now there are many looking into it as a viable energy source, I think it can certainly be claimed that the project has had a positive impact. Since we’ve transferred our knowledge to others in person, via media channels and through our printed materials the project’s goals can only become wider spread. The sustainability we are hoping for and expect is akin to a snowballing effect: as one person switches to solar, they’ll tell others who will also switch and tell even more.

Overall development of CEETZ

At the same time as this project was in implementation, CEETZ worked with several other donors on other projects, some of them energy-related:

AGREE.net obviously financed this project A Sunny Future For Tuzla, through the larger EU-funded project AGREE.net.

Canadian embassy to BiH is financing the current project Energy Efficiency Labels (which works to raise awareness and standards of energy-using appliances sold in BiH).

European Union has financed CEETZ as partners in the projects Support to Environmental Policy Development Through Public Advocacy and Active Citizen’s Participation, Development of BiH Civil Society Environmental Initiatives At the Local Level and Green Paper (an energy efficiency and RES project).

 (Switzerland) has been financing CEETZ’s core project Environmental Education, which between September 1, 2001 and December 31, 2005 was responsible for 168 workshops on at least a monthly basis for 4711 participants. The subjects include water conservation, waste management, recycling, composting, pollution and energy efficiency.

Oak Philanthropy Limited (USA) financed the project Energy Brigade of Bosnia and Herzegovina.(a project focusing on practical energy efficiency methods) through the larger project International Energy Brigades.

Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) has financed the projects Local Agenda 21, Tuzla Citizens Have a Right to Know (about information access and air pollution in Tuzla) and Let’s Compost Together.

Canadian Development Agency (CIDA) and the Canadian Urban Institute of Tuzla financed the project Let’s Recycle – Being An Example.

Swiss embassy to BiH, the Swiss company “Hardwasser” and the Tuzla Canton Department for Water together financed the project With Local Communities For Clean Water Sources.

Tuzla Agency for Local Development Initiatives (TALDI) financed the project Drop For Dropthrough their own EU-funded project.

Tuzla Municipality, Department for Spatial Planning and Environmental Protectionfinanced the project: Education of Citizens About Decentralized Composting In Tuzla Municipality.

USAID, with assistance from OSCE, is financing the current project Youth of BiHTogether For the Environment Spring Camp 2007, letting CEETZ focus its experience in environmental education onto a target group of young people.

Before this project, RES was mentioned almost only in passing as a concept; until it was seen that concrete results could be achieved in this field, it was a relatively distant topic for us to present or participants to ponder. Starting from around the beginning of 2006, CEETZ began integrating RES and solar issues into the mix of subjects discussed at our monthly Environmental Education seminars. Immediately it was seen that these topics held special interest with the participants, so we began actively pursuing it as a project to be realized.
After the success we’ve achieved with this project, we are making plans to expand our own knowledge of RES and solar in particular. We see that there is real public demand for such a project and that we are capable of bringing such ideas to fruition. In the next stages we hope to not merely transfer knowledge, but also work on developing policies and a foundation that is encouraging to such endeavors.

Otherwise, we are working to expand our work in all environmental fields. We are pursuing further projects in water conservation, recycling and composting, and environmental education. Besides the planned work on solar energy and energy efficiency labels, we are also co-developing a project on Energy Advisory Centers to submit for funding this year.

Presentation of administrative issues

There were no significant personnel or salary changes within the project. Due to timing issues, our foreign expert was only able to attend one workshop, but we made up for this by finding a local capable of the task. In any case, we spent the entire budget basically according to plan.

Development and events in Bosnia and Herzegovina

On the socio-political front, one of the biggest things to happen in 2006 were the elections of October. BiH has a three-person, rotating presidency, where one each of the three main ethnic groups (Bosniak, Croat and Serb) are guaranteed a seat. Since the end of the war, the three presidential seats have been a virtual lock by the three main parties (SDA, HDZ and SDS) which for the most part can be considered to have quite nationalist/ethnic-focused agendas.

However, in 2006, for the first time all three of the main parties lost the presidential seat! In their place are now three new parties (SBiH, SDP and SNSD). While the Bosniak SBiH and Serb SNSD are essentially just break-away groups from the main parties, the SDP is a general democratic-type party. One can hope that the election of these new politicians means a governmental shift away from nationalist agendas to real reforms, which would hopefully include the environmental and energy sector as well.

Specifically on the energy sector front, policies and reforms are only gradually changing. Each of the companies involved in various stages of energy use (transmission, distribution and production), like for the various sources (electricity, petroleum, natural gas, heating, etc.), remain in various stages of privatization and restructuring. All retain a certain amount of state-ownership but are increasingly becoming privately owned and managed.

Reforms are being made and national-level regulatory bodies being created or strengthened. So far only the electricity regulatory body is functional, though plans are in the works for similar bodies regarding both heating and gas. That said, development of natural gas is increasing – though no reserves exist in the country – and gas services will be expanded to other major cities beyond the capital. Also of some importance, the national government is developing a national-level energy strategy, but it’s not expected for at least another year.
Otherwise little is being done to work on energy issues contributing to slow climate change, in particular energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. A token law exists that provides feed-in tariffs for some RES, but it lacks substantial incentives or guarantees for initial investors. However, in regards to EE, even such a token law is lacking; the most we can hope for is that it is being discussed in some circles, possibly among newly-elected politicians.

    This report was prepared by George Stiff and Admir Malkočević