Clean bioenergy for Ukrainian schools and kindergartens

Jan 13, 2016

“Can you really learn and study when the classroom is so freezing cold? I don’t think so! We used to put plastic film over the windows in October and remove it in April to gain a couple of degrees of warmth,” exclaimed Iryna Samoilova, not trying to conceal her emotions. She has good reason not to; the times when she had to teach a class full of children tucked cozily in their winter jackets are not too far away. But thanks to the biomass straw power these gloomy days are gone for good.

Over one thousand children from the small town of Uman in Cherkassy region of Ukraine will stay warm this fall and winter thanks to bioenergy. Three straw-fired biomass boilers have been installed in the local kindergarten and allowing schools to save over 700,000 Hryvnias (roughly $30,000 USD) on heating bills annually.

The boilers are a vivid example of a sustainable development triple-win for the community and the planet. They run on eco-friendly fuel, releasing no CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and decreasing greenhouse gases, save money, and use locally-grown biomass from waste wheat straw pressed into pellets. The money saved this year will be used for installing energy-efficient windows in the kindergarten. The town officials are very enthusiastic and plan to allocate future year savings for further energy-efficient initiatives, engaging more schools and kindergartens in the eco-virtuous circle.

Both the straw pellets and boilers are produced by an Uman-based company, assisting the struggling local economy and creating badly needed jobs for the town.

The company management as well as government officials hope that the eco-trend will gain traction in other cities and towns of Ukraine, currently one of the least energy-efficient countries in the world. However, currently the agricultural biomass share is only 0.5% of the country energy’s supply. UNDP works to assist the Government in removing legislative, administrative, and institutional barriers to biomass use to reach at least 7% of the country’s energy supply target by 2030. UNDP, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility, plans to install eight more boilers in Ukrainian universities, schools and kindergartens. In parallel to these pilots, UNDP is providing technical assistance to the drafting of new laws and regulations that will ensure that Ukraine can fully benefit from biomass energy. It will also help Ukraine to cut its dependency on imported natural gas and become more energy-efficient.

“This year our school saved 250,000 hryvnias on utility bills. This will allow us to buy better teaching tools and better food for our children, all thanks to the straw that we used to burn on our fields,” says Iryna, with a big smile on her face.



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