Slovak villages tap into biomass potential creating energy security and jobs

Eight villages in the Slovak region of Pol’ana have renovated their boiler rooms, transferring from the original coal to woodchip boilers, as part of a bioenergy project. The main aim of the project is to increase levels of energy security in the rural community by using the local biomass available.

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The Pol’ana region is particularly noted for its wealth of renewable energy sources thanks to its location in a heavily forested area in central Slovakia, which has several industrial wood processing facilities. These conditions mean that there is huge biomass potential.

Biomass-fuelled villages

An association of villages was created in 2005, known as the “Bystricko Biomass”, with the aim that these communities will become self-sufficient in energy production. Thanks to the project began in 2009, the villages now use local woodchips as fuel in new modern woodchip-based boilers which have replaced traditional coal boilers. The woodchips all come from local sources, mostly leftover wood from industrial sawmills that would otherwise go to waste. The renovated boilers heat 43 renovated buildings in 8 villages and the villages manage of all the new boiler rooms themselves.

Results across the board

Pol’ana is a region rich in natural resources, but these resources have not always been appreciated. This project puts the region’s resources at its heart, and additionally strengthens the sense of community in Pol’ana. The project’s achievements include a well-coordinated community approach, increased energy security in the region, a 25 % reduction in energy costs, reduced fossil fuel emissions – a decrease of 2 643 tonnes a year - and the creation of new jobs.

The project is transferable to other locations where cooperative associations of villages could be created in areas with a higher enough abundance of natural resources to become self-sufficient. It is proof that a lot can be done through cooperation at local level to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a region.

The project is expected to create 21 new jobs.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Bioenergy Reconstruction of Boiler Rooms” is EUR 7 200 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 5 800 000 through the “Air protection and minimisation of adverse impact of climate change” priority of the “Environment” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The national contribution was EUR 700 000.

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