The Kosovar capital of Prishtina was host last week to the Regional Workshop on “Energy efficiency and renewable energy in public buildings”, following the initiative of the country’s Energy Efficiency Agency within the Ministry of Economic Development in cooperation with the AIDA project co-funded under the EU’s Intelligent Energy Europe Programme. The half-day event aimed to begin promoting the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in public buildings in the Balkan region by informing both authorities and local building professionals about the costs and benefits of switching to alternative sources of energy and using energy efficiency measures.
Following the introductory speech of Denion Galimuna, Political Advisor at the Ministry of Economic Development, the audience present at the Ministry’s Kulla Rilindja room – which comprised representatives from both the private and public sector, was informed on topics ranging from the principles of integrating energy efficiency in public buildings in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, to the actual costs of such plans. The presentations were delivered by energy specialists from prestigious European organizations and universities from Europe, such as Raphael Bointner from the Vienna University of Technology and Jose Santos of Spain’s CIMNE group. Avni Sfishta, GIZ’s Country Coordinator for Kosovo, shared his experiences on the lessons learned from promoting a smart approach to the use of energy in Kosovo.
“Kosovo is one of Europe’s newest countries and now that its people are working on consolidating it, energy is one of the things that need to be taken into account. If they start on this path, then they are on the right track. I believe this conference is the first step in this direction, by informing those who actually have the power to do something and set an example” says Ömer Ceylan, COO of Geonardo Environmental Technologies Ltd., one of the partners in the AIDA project and in charge of the organisation of the event.
The conference was extremely interactive and the presenters raised many issues about the possibilities of implementing energy efficiency measures in public buildings in the Balkan region. Besides the expected discussion on the high costs of such measures, the members of the audience also raised their concern about the lack of proper incentives coming from the authorities as well as on whether the Balkan countries are ready to even talk about energy efficiency.
Istvan Pári, Project Manager of the AIDA project at Geonardo, thinks more countries should follow the example of Poland, where the government offers financial support for those who want to build a house using alternative sources of energy. The Hungarian geologist is optimistic but believes Kosovo should not run before it can walk. “This first discussion was great in terms of bringing specialists together and seeing if they could cooperate. But there is a lot to be done. I don’t know if Kosovo is ready yet to dive into the world of energy efficiency and nearly zero energy buildings (NZEBs), but there is no harm in trying to expand the area where the EU can help with finance and expertise.”
The Regional Workshop proved to be a valuable initiative, aimed to bring the Balkans closer to the European Union in terms of energy policies. It will take a lot of work and commitment from the countries in the region to see the results, but the first step – showing initiative – has already been taken.