Brave decisions are needed to eradicate energy poverty

Photo: Center for Democracy Foundation

Energy poverty continues to be one of the main problems for the citizens of Serbia. A large percentage of the population cannot afford to heat more than one room during the winter months, and even those that heat with gas, which we would call “well-off”, are only one step away from energy poverty, said participants in the debate “How much energy savings Goals of Sustainable Development ”held yesterday in the space of Miljenko Dereta.

Prof. Dr. Ksenija Petovar presented her study “Energy Poverty”, which contains the basic steps necessary to reduce energy poverty in Serbia.

According to her, saving energy is in the public interest, but it is insufficiently understood in our country. Petovar cited the example of the Scandinavian countries, which have more conditions to be wasteful, but still invest much more in energy savings, while in the Balkans it is completely the opposite.

She also referred to the financial aid provided by “energy-endangered customers”, which she says does not contribute to solving energy poverty, but further reproduces it. This is especially important bearing in mind that the number of energy-endangered customers will rise from the current 70,000 to 200,000 next year, according to Professor Petovar’s predictions.

Energy expert Aleksandar Kovacevic warned that, having in mind the global energy crisis, but also the proportions of energy poverty in Serbia, we should take the worst-case scenario when making decisions.

“Firewood is still dominant in Serbia, but we have 30 years of continuous loss of quality forests, which has never happened in history. Wood is twice as expensive as last year, and lignite, poor quality coal, is more expensive than hard coal on the world market. In the next period, we can expect reduced assistance from the European Union, and the issue of stable gas supply is open, “Kovacevic explains the factors that can worsen energy poverty.

Subsidies are not intended for those who need them most

The participants also referred to the current subsidies for improving the energy efficiency of houses where citizens finance 50 percent of the works, while 50 percent of the funds are provided by the local self-government.

According to Aleksandar Matsura from the RES Foundation, these subsidies miss those who need them the most because the amount of money that citizens have to set aside is still too large, and research shows that most citizens cannot afford sudden expenses of more than 13,000 dinars.

Photo: Center for Democracy Foundation

The same goes for energy-efficient devices that are too expensive and, therefore, inaccessible to those who need them the most, says Kovacevic.

Maja Petković from the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure notes that the state has in mind the inability of citizens to rehabilitate their homes with energy with the existing subsidies, and adds that 100 percent subsidies are also planned. However, many illegal facilities, whose dimensions exceed the allowed ones and which were not built in accordance with the regulations, are delaying the realization of these plans, so the priority of the state is to first help those who live in legal facilities.

The conclusion of the debate is that energy poverty is still not enough in focus in our country, and that the state must take courageous steps to bring the majority population out of energy poverty.

The public debate “How much energy savings contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals” was organized by the Center for Democracy Foundation within the Platform “Sustainable Development for All”.

Milena Maglovski


Source: Energetski portal Srbije by www.energetskiportal.rs.

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