EBRD helping Siberian schools save energy

By Richard Wallis

An EBRD pilot project in western Siberia will allow local schools to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings by outsourcing energy efficiency improvements to private firms. The firms will then recoup their costs by receiving a share of the savings on the schools’ energy bills.

This pilot project is part of a broader EBRD programme on developing financing mechanisms to help make Russian public buildings more energy efficient and is financed by a USD 9.2 million grant of the inter-governmental Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Tenders for what is the largest such project to date in Russia have been launched this week. They will cover an energy-focused overhaul of seven schools in Omsk, a city of over a million inhabitants some 2,200 km northeast of Moscow.

The Bank is through this project for the first time extending to public buildings a model it has already pioneered in Russian industry where energy service companies or ESCOs design, finance and implement measures to increase energy efficiency at their clients’ premises and then get repaid from their clients’ metered savings.

The target is for the seven Omsk schools to achieve a combined minimum saving of 4.6 million roubles a year (over EUR 100,000).

Russian buildings use about twice as much energy as those in countries with comparable climactic conditions. As a result, regional and municipal governments face steadily increasing energy bills in schools, kindergartens and hospitals due to rising energy costs.

The involvement of ESCOs in in improving the energy efficiency of public buildings offer a viable solution to local authorities by attracting private investments that result in lower energy bills.

Once the Omsk school tenders have been launched, the EBRD will provide additional support during the implementation of the project on, for example, the monitoring and verification of the resulting savings.

The EBRD intends to scale up its programme by supporting other cities and regions in launching similar tenders. Furthermore, the EBRD is currently exploring potential mechanisms to finance ESCOs so as to encourage them to participate in such projects.

 

The Global Environment Facility is a fund whose aim is to promote environmental and sustainable development and cover the incremental costs associated with introducing global environmental benefits to local and regional projects. It provides grants for projects related to six focal areas: biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.