On October 23, 2017, a delegation from Ukraine embarked on a five-day study tour in Norway to investigate local-level applications of sustainable energy policies and initiatives, Joined by the REC team, representatives from six local authorities and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine are enjoying a unique opportunity to glean extra insight related to sustainable energy planning and environmental management.
The visit also provides an opportunity for LINK Ukraine project partner municipalities to strengthen the application of their own local policies aimed at creating a cleaner environment.
The study tour began in Oslo with a visit to the Norwegian Association for Local and Regional Authorities. Helge Eide, Director of the Policy Department, welcomed the participants and explained the association’s role and function, after which association experts described the role of municipalities and counties in climate and energy policy implementation. The participants also learned how municipal waste management is organised in Norwegian municipalities and counties, and were informed about the challenges and opportunities facing municipal waste companies.
Up next was an afternoon visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, where a fruitful discussion was held with Jan Flaeta, Senior Adviser at the Ministry. Discussion topics included Norway’s strategic goals and approaches towards promoting good governance and democracy, energy sector reform, trade facilitation, and Ukraine’s European integration process. Professor Petter Nore from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) elaborated the reasoning behind his country’s strategic approach, and explained why good governance is the key to economic, social and environmental development in Ukraine—adding that Norway supports good governance practices in Ukraine’s natural gas and electricity sectors. Afterwards, the REC team and Ukrainian municipality representatives presented the LINK project activities, which are directly connected to the very goals that were discussed earlier.
On the following day, the delegation travelled west to Kongsberg (Buskerud county, pop. 2,000), which lies at the south end of the Numedal valley. After silver ore was discovered on the site in 1623, Kongsberg was known primarily as a mining town until the mines closed for good in 1957. Nowadays, Kongsberg is a showcase for innovative approaches to long-term energy planning. Municipal Energy Engineer Hallvard Benum briefed the visitors on details of the Kongsberg Energy Performance Contracting Project, which has enabled investment in highly efficient energy systems, as well as the use of renewable (geothermal) energy in many of Kongsberg’s institutional buildings and facilities. The project, implemented under European Energy Service Initiative 2020, includes energy efficiency upgrades for 70 percent of municipal buildings in Kongsberg (36 buildings altogether). Following the presentation, Mr Benum provided technical information during a guided a tour of the Raumyr Primary School, Kongsberg Town Hall and Idrettsparken Kindergarten.
On day three of the tour, October 26, the delegation visited Fredrikstad, the administrative centre of Ostfold county. Along with neighbouring Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad forms the fifth largest metropolitan area in Norway, with a total population of 135,347. Sites on the agenda include Lisleby Stadium (a zero-emission sports and educational facility) and the Frevar Waste Disposal Plant (owned by Fredrikstad municipality, which operates a biogas factory and district heating facility). The delegation also learned about a solar cell-panel partnership between the Fredrikstad and Hvaler municipalities (Fredrikstad Energy Sales/Smart Energy), and visited the Kvernhuset Upper Secondary School, which was built according to green principles.
By providing an opportunity to see environmental policies applied in practice, and to learn more about potential solutions to environmental and energy-related problems that can be applied at the local level, this study tour will certainly provide inspiration for the REC’s Ukrainian partners as they move forward to a greener future.