On November 24th 2020, the first all-Ukrainian online forum on the energy independence of the regions of Ukraine took place. The project was organized by the State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine with the support of the Representation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine and other partners. It brought together a wide range of representative from public bodies, business and civil society in order to discuss the current state of Ukrainian policies in the sphere of energy and shed light on the ways to further increase energy efficiency, the use of renewables and strengthen energy independency in Ukraine. Being held shortly after the local elections, the forum aimed also at raising awareness among all communities and especially among the newly elected local governments about the issues and importance of energy efficiency and the opportunity it offers for a green and sustainable economy.
The participation of experts from different backgrounds guaranteed an optimal insight on policy, business activities and funding opportunities as well as practical insights from communities and investors. During discussions, concerns were raised that currently Ukraine still has a very high consumption of energy in both the private and public spheres, due to bad technical conditions of the electricity grids and transmission facilities, obsolete heating systems and misleading prices for energy that encourage overconsumption. But the country has ambitious goals to become more energy efficient and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Both will help reduce dependency on energy imports and strengthen a sustainable local economy and raise welfare. And optimism is well placed as all participants agreed that Ukraine is an energy wealthy country that has vast opportunities to increase exploitation of its sustainable sources such as agrarian waste for biogas or hydrogen and wood gasification charcoal. And indeed, the statements of various organizations, business and communities show that initiatives for green business and energy efficiency are very diverse and flourishing.
Nevertheless, much more can and should be done to achieve energy independence in the regions of Ukraine. Funding is often scarce and while the forum offered a stage to public and private entities that invest in green technology and energy production, most participants stressed that most projects will only receive continuous and substantial funding if the government provides for clearer rules, a transparent market and, in some cases, also lower entrance barriers for small businesses. Participants also agreed that the government should launch new mechanisms such as a “new energy market” and finalizing legislation on green auctions. Furthermore, Marcel Röthig, Permanent representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine reminded participants that increased energy efficiency and energy independence can only develop its full potential if it is done under the principles of just transition and includes all relevant stakeholders equally.
The informative event ended with the input by the representatives of two cities in Ukraine, Lviv and Kamianets-Podilsky that are both ambitiously working towards energy independence. As some participants observed, decentralization can be an advantage for increasing energy efficiency of regions. Different policies and technologies can be tested locally and then be spread in the whole country. Experiences and best practices can be shared among communities and ambitious cities can go ahead and take over leadership.
The Representation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Ukraine expresses its sincere gratitude to all the partners and everyone who took part in the project, as moderators and participants.
Сергій Герасимчук, Ганна Шелест
Юлія Лихач (кер. авт. колективу), Марина Канавець, Роман Попов, Анжела Малюга, Наталія Шамрай, Сергій Гербеда, Андрій Мацокін, Наталя Чермошенцева, Сергій Селіванов, Наталія Щербак, Вікторія Дівак, Ганна Третяченко, Юлія Єрченко, Мар´яна Постоловська, Оксана Бутенко, Людмила Михалик