Residents of Czech cities and towns are waiting for winter in their offices and darkening of the streets. It’s just such savings that City Hall’s new manager can most easily rely on to guide the city through the energy crisis after the next local elections. Instead, experts advise thinking about ways to be as self-sufficient as possible. Aktuálně.cz presents the fifth and final part of our election coverage.

It was a sight not seen by tourists. The otherwise fully lit National Theater, the Rudolfinum building and over 100 other Prague monuments were shrouded in darkness on the night of June 1st. Midnight he an hour ago the lights went out and the town hall reacted to a sharp rise in electricity bills. Heat prices have risen sharply since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Uncertainty is intensified by the threat of the city being cut off from gas coming mainly from Russia.

Prague will save 1.6 million crowns a year thanks to the early extinguishing of monuments. That amount may seem small on a $93 billion budget, but it’s just one of many austerity measures the city has implemented in recent months. Energy is an urgent and unexpected challenge for municipalities of all sizes.

It will be handled by new representatives from the next local elections. People are going to vote for him on September 23rd and 24th.

The current energy crisis goes beyond local government politics, but cities and local governments need to respond. Electricity prices are several times higher than at the same time last year, and the entire European Union grapples with the problem of expensive energy. ODS Petr Fiala Government has decided to limit prices for homes, small businesses and the public sector on Monday 12th September.

But local governments shouldn’t wait to see what happens, warns an energy expert at the International Affairs Association Ordzig Skrenász. “It’s in their interest to set a good example and try to save money on their own budgets and residents,” he said.

Before the crisis, the cost of purchasing fuel and electricity accounted for about 15% of the municipal budget, depending on the municipality’s size and the number of buildings it manages. But that may change soon. “At the moment our main motivation is to save energy in buildings, city halls, schools and hospitals,” says Izzy Kogelou of his movement, Rainbow, which deals with municipal energy.

For some savings, local governments don’t need a nationwide solution. You can turn off the lighting of monuments or reduce the heating of the building itself. For the former, this means leaving spotlights shining on town halls, castles, or other local landmarks. Second, do a few less in the office. Heating accounts for the majority of energy costs in most municipalities.

“According to our calculations, a 2°C drop in temperature can reduce total consumption by about 10%, but it depends on the specific building and other requirements,” says Tadeáš Provazník, spokesman for the city of Prague, for example. said. In August.

Cities also want to conserve public lighting. In Prague, its cost increases from 150 million to he 300 million crowns per year. The city wants to reduce them by replacing old sodium lamps with more energy efficient LED lights. This is also being implemented in Brno and thanks to them, energy consumption for lighting public places has decreased by 12.5% ​​since 2014.

The capital also plans to reduce the intensity of lighting at night and has already tested the technology in eight parks. Elsewhere I would opt for a more radical solution. At Jílové u Prahy, turn off the street lights completely. “From 1 o’clock in the morning he does not turn on until 4 o’clock. The time was set according to the arrival and departure times of the last and first buses,” explains Mayor Pavel Peszek. Going out saves Jílové hundreds of thousands of crowns a year. At the beginning of May, City Hall calculated a savings of 650,000. “At current prices, it’s probably more,” the mayor added.

Insulation is also a relatively easy way to save money, experts say. His Glazier from the Association for International Issues spotlights his Nový Lískovec district in Brno. Here offices, schools, kindergartens and apartments were insulated in the past. “They were able to reduce consumption by up to a third in some cases,” explains the expert.

Biomass boiler heats the village

New managers at City Hall will also think about how to move towns and villages as far as possible towards energy self-sufficiency. Removing Russia’s dependence on gas will also help almost all major contenders in Prague by 2025, including the Spolu coalition formed by ODS, KDU-ČSL, TOP 09, Pirátů, Prahy sebo, or STAN. what people want. ANO did not answer questions about whether SPDs with the tricolor or communists were against it.

Municipalities can produce their own electricity and heat. “For example, we will install solar power, biogas stations and wind farms,” says Koželouh, the Rainbow Movement’s heir.

He mentions Kniežice in Nymburg. The city has been mostly energy self-sufficient since 2007 thanks to a biogas station. The village of about 500 inhabitants is he one of about 160 villages in the Czech Republic that use community energy companies. These produce energy through renewable resources owned by municipalities, their residents or local businesses. Since then, it has been used not only in municipal public buildings, but also in ordinary households.

“It seems like a dairy cooperative to me. At first you have people milking one or two cows and then you collect them and put them together,” Jizzy Christo describes community energy on the HN podcast. . A longtime devoted to rural development, he is Vice-President of the National Network of Local Action Groups and Councilor of the Community Energy Coalition.

In Kniežice, most of the heat is provided by two biomass boilers burning wood chips and straw bales. “They can also treat waste from cesspools, so they can replace sewage systems and wastewater treatment plants,” explains Mayor Milan Kazuda.

The heat from burning biomass is also used by other municipalities. For example, since 2003 in Rostin in the Kroměńži region. Pilsen can be a model for big cities. We are partially self-sufficient in the production of heat and electricity thanks to urban incinerators for municipal waste, coal and biomass.

Photovoltaic panels in kindergarten buildings are used to generate energy, for example in Liturtvice in the Opava region. They supply nine more buildings. “In winter, we can’t even produce as much as the kindergarten itself needs, but in summer we can also cover the consumption of other buildings,” says Mayor Jan Virgas. The municipality plans to install the panels in other buildings as well.

Electricity sharing is prohibited by law

However, compared to countries in Western and Northern Europe, the Czech Republic, with its centralized energy system, lags behind in community development. In other areas it is common for people to form cooperatives and share heat and electricity. “For example, someone has a big roof with photovoltaic panels so they can supply electricity to the school, while when the children are at home they send energy in the opposite direction. It’s more efficient than having your own source,” said Koželouh of Hnúti Duha.

No Czech municipality has yet distributed electricity to its residents. Development is hampered by legislation that lacks a definition of an energy community, definitions of rights and obligations, and rules for power sharing. Although these provisions are required by the European Commission.

The Czech Republic was supposed to change the law by the end of 2020 but is now facing fines. However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, headed by Jozef Síkela (STAN), plans to submit amendments by the end of September so that they can be applied from the beginning of next year.

In Prague, for example, they are preparing for change. Solar energy will be shared in the capital by the renewable energy Prague community, which by 2030 he hopes to install photovoltaic panels on more than 20,000 roofs.

Heat from vacuum cleaners and server rooms

Less common solutions are also given space abroad. Vienna plans to extract heat from a sewage treatment plant next year. “When you take a hot shower, most of the heat goes into the canal with the wastewater. But the pump assembly carries it back into the network from the wastewater treatment plant. Phase 1 will need to heat 56,000 homes. is 112,000,” says Skrenash of the Association for International Affairs.

The Prague Climate Plan envisages a similar project. “The heat pump system of Císařský ostrov’s treatment plant can have an output of 250 megawatts, which corresponds to a larger heating plant block,” explains the expert. The municipality is also planning his 30 million crown tender to build a water supply system from the Vltava River to the town hall of Marianske Naměsti, where it will be used for heating.

In Stockholm, meanwhile, the city draws heat from data centers, server rooms, shopping centers or cold storage facilities. So it will depend on the ingenuity of the newly elected leaders and what solutions they choose for the city or municipality during the energy crisis.

Video: We Will All Pay For Limited Energy, Warns MP Lochman (13 Sep 2022)

“The ceiling is never late. In the spring the price was different, so we started offering a great price list. But by August it became clear that that wasn’t enough.” | Video: Martin Veselovský

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