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HOW BELARUSIAN CITIES CAN BECOME ENERGY EFFICIENT: A CONFERENCE IN POLOTSK

Project : MODERNIZATION OF THE PUBLIC LIGHTING IN POLOTSK
Published at : 2015-09-25

On September 22, Polotsk hosted a conference on the sustainable development of urban energy systems. The participants of the event – 17 representatives of Belarusian cities among them – also learned about PubLiCity project, a new European Union initiative in Polotsk that will provide the city with modern city lighting lamps. By 2020, the modernization will have resulted in a 15% decrease in electricity now consumed for city lighting.   

 

The conference was organized by Polotsk District Executive Committee and Interakcia Foundation within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors. The Covenant of Mayors is the European movement involving local, regional, and national authorities, voluntarily committing to decrease CO2 emissions minimum by twenty percent by 2020 through green economy.  

In 2011, Polotsk already became the first Belarusian signatory of the Covenant of Mayors. Polotsk is now one of many thousands European cities willing to cut CO2 emissions by reducing energy consumption and using alternative sources of energy. Not surprisingly, the conference took place in the oldest Belarusian city (Polotsk was founded in 862). Moreover, in 2012 Polotsk adopted its Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

Since 2011, nine more cities from Belarus have joined the Covenant of Maoyrs: Braslav, Ivie, Kobrin, Molodechno, Novogrudok, Oshmyany, Pukhovichi, Rogachev and Chausy. Officials from almost all these cities came to Polotsk on September 22. However, there is a growing interest in the Covenant of Mayors; as a result, another 10 cities had their delegates at the conference in Polotsk.

 

Photo provided by the Green Network Partnership

The participants of the event could have a look at what Polotsk has already achieved in energy saving. They also learned about a new Polotsk project in this realm – PubLiCity: Energy Efficient Modernization of Public Lighting in the City of Polotsk. The initiative is funded by the European Union, while Polotsk District Executive Committee and Interakcia Foundation are now implementing it.

By 2019, 900 modern lamps (LED, OLED, PLED technologies) will have appeared in 16 central streets in Polotsk. New lighting poles will be also installed as well as decorative lighting lamps on around 40 historicla buildings and monuments.  

However, Sergei Leichenko, Deputy Chairman of Polotsk District Executive Committee, noted that all parts of the city will see improvements in their lighting. For instance, those lamps that now work in central streets will be relocated to neighborhood lacking public lighting. Besides, special automatic light control boxes are expected to regulate electricity consumption in two thirds of Polotsk streets. Furthermore, Polotsk will soon receive a special strategy for the development of public lighting. It will outline actions until 2030. Finally, many special events, for instance, Energy Days and lighting festivals, are planned for Polotsk residents to provide them with more information on energy saving practices.  

The project has a special importance due to the fact that, according the decision of the UN General Assembly, the year 2015 was proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

Two more initiatives, which received funding from the EU, were presented at the conference in Polotsk. In Braslav, two boilers working on local straw will be installed; also some kindergartens in the city will be heated by solar collector. And in Chausy, the central sewage collector will be modernized. Besides, a special info center on resource saving practices will open in that city.  

For the first time in many years, an event dedicated to the Covenant of Mayors have attracted participants from so diverse localities. The Covenant of Mayors is getting more popular in Belarus,” noted Elena Rakova,  Manager for Environment and Energy Projects, speaking on behalf of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus. “It is a very encouraging sign that so many cities are represented at the conference: both signatories and those cities that would like to become part of the initiative. Regarding the European Union, it has been consistently supporting and will continue supporting sustainable development in regions, programs and projects that should make our cities and economy greener.”