Idea of new tax credits and reducing debt financing costs is being developed now to stimulate energy savings

15 february 2015 | Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Pavel Svistunov, the Head of the Directorate for Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency, has told the "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" about the things, that prevent our homes become "smarter", and what to start with if you are going to save on utility payments.

Pavel Svistunov
Pavel Svistunov
Directorate for Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency

The Minister of Energy Alexander Novak has recently told that the energy consumption of housing and communal services in Russia is twice higher than in Canada, and three times higher than in the USA. Why?

Pavel Svistunov: First of all, because of the enormous inertia of thinking. We can understand that payment for lighting of common areas can be lower if we use the lamp with motion sensor. Walked out of the elevator - the lights came, closed the door to the building - it went down.

The sensor is cheap enough,  Europe enjoys it for decades. But no tenants nor management companies are going to make some effort to install it. Again, nobody can punish anyone for it.

A seditious thought: we have too cheap resource. Now, if kilowatts of electricity would cost 50 rubles, we would have moved, but so far it's worth a few rubles, we all pull the plug.

The second reason is the dominance of low-quality goods. For example, the law does not contain proper requirements for energy saving lamps. Well, they shouldn't burn out after a year of work!

Generally, the mercury saving lamp, with which we decided to link energy efficiency in lighting, is just a dead-end. The LEDs are much safer, and if they will be finally gotten into shape from a technical point of view, they will be cheaper for the end user.

There is a great program for the overhaul of apartment buildings. The Ministry of Construction wants to repair 50,000 apartment buildings until 2016. How will it be linked to energy efficiency?

Pavel Svistunov:  Energy efficiency indexes were derived from the requirements for overhaul. So, we will reproduce the energy efficiency in the renovated houses at the level of 50-60-ies. At least, in most regions authorities when defining a list of necessary works are not required to establish them according to energy efficiency.

And only in those few cases where funds for the overhaul of each apartment building are located on the separate account of the building, and the list of works is defined by the owners of the apartments, they will be able to raise increased demand on energy efficiency at the moment of making order for works.

And has the idea of social norms on public resources, which actually was abandoned, a chance of revival?

Pavel Svistunov:  Certainly. The idea of a multiplicity of different tariffs and tariff plans is used in many countries.

We have tested the two-tier system, used only two tariffs, and even with a minimum difference between them, which did not stimulate savings.

And we need to use at least three or four tariffs with the substantial gap between them: the low for super economical consumption, the usual for consumers, and the increased for those who have, so to speak, "three hot tubs in the house", and the wholesale for business - for super consumption.

Why not to try the same principle in respect of the heat? Many people close their cranes at heating radiators in winter, but they pay like everyone.

Pavel Svistunov:  When individually considering the amount of heat consumption, there are serious technological problems.

If the consumption of electricity and water in a single apartment can be measured, then calculating the amount of heat for each radiator will not work in most homes  due to technical reasons. This is possible only in a horizontal type of wiring of heating, which is used in new homes.

Does the overhaul provide such an option?

Pavel Svistunov: At whose expense? One heat spreader or heat meter, installed in a single apartment, will not solve the accounting problems throughout the building, we need to install them throughout the building, only then we will see the overall balance of energy consumed and everyone will be able to pay only for themselves.

But this requires a collective agreement of all residents of the building, and then, again, it is necessary to provide competent operation of the equipment installed, as the heat meter is more complex device than the water meter, from the technological point of view.

What the apartment owners specifically have to do before the overhaul?

Pavel Svistunov: First of all, owners must clearly understand that they need to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and what benefits they will receive from energy-saving measures. Then we need to attract a specialized company that will perform these activities, and conduct energy audits.

It is clear that residents can make a decision to install motion sensors in doorways themselves. And more serious and, therefore, more expensive measures may require a cost, that will not be compensated for ten years.

For example, it refers to change of the heating wiring from vertical to horizontal and to installation of the individual meters heat, even if the heat energy costs us three times as much. The payback period of the plastic windows can be up to 10 years. So all investments should have adequate energy-saving effect.

Does it make sense to require the managing company any energy efficiency measures during current repairs?

Pavel Svistunov: The problem concerns the amount of funds that can be spent for these purposes. The current renovation of the house should be at the expense of homeowners, and the size of the payment, in theory, should be also set by them.

A specialist with the heating imager can find = seams that need to be repaired, for a couple of thousand rubles, but then we will need to determine who and for what money will do the job.

Or, suppose, an energy auditor will tell you that you need a ventilated facade, individual boiler, lawn on the roof, and it will all be worth a million dollars. We know that, and what's then?

And you can start with warming entrances, it is one of the most effective thermal protection measure. The double front door, warm windows give a huge cost savings when paying for heating energy, consumed per common needs.

Then it all depends on the series of the building you live in.

Is the managing company interested in energy efficiency increase?

Pavel Svistunov: It is just an operator, an intermediary between residents and suppliers of public resources: collects the money and gives to suppliers.

If we need to stimulate the managing company to help residents to determine certain activities, that will allow to pay less, we need provide contribution in its favor at least in amount of a small part of savings that would arise as a result of energy efficiency. If after the completion of the activities the payments decreased by 10 percent with the same rates, then let the managing company receive a portion of these funds. Then it will attract right people, and figure out how to reduce costs of communal resources.

Is the situation better in industry?

Pavel Svistunov: Unfortunately, the industry has the same problems. It would seem, that the cheaper unit of production links to the more profitable manufacturer. But I can count on your fingers large Russian companies that had conducted comprehensive work to improve the energy efficiency of their plants.

In addition, the number of national experts on industrial energy consulting is extremely small, and Western services are quite expensive. And few manufacturers willing to wait for returns on investment in energy-saving for more than 10 years.

But in Belarus, for example, industrial plants reduce their energy costs next larger, experts on energy audit and energy services are very popular there. This occurs primarily because of their extremely low energy resources, and the proportion of energy in the production cost is high because it is expensive.

The same pattern is observed in the West. Each percentage of increased energy efficiency there is three or four times expensive as in this country.

In general, energy efficiency is not for us...

Pavel Svistunov: This is a very big misconception. Slowly, but we create the necessary infrastructure in the field of energy conservation and energy efficiency in this country. And although we can not even say today that the energy services market is already well-established, but it is not as exotic, as even three or four years ago.

But apparently, it isn't enough of it?

Pavel Svistunov: The idea of new tax credits and reducing the cost of debt financing,  used for the implementation of appropriate energy efficiency measures, is being developed now to stimulate energy efficiency measures.

It is also necessary to change the model of state support in this area. By decision of the government, budget subsidies for energy efficiency measures of the regions in 2015 were canceled, because they actually had been wasted. The money will be reallocated to support energy efficiency projects. Also we need to change the procedure for granting state guarantees, issued as collateral for loans.

We can't do without tightening mandatory standards and requirements in the field of energy efficiency. In Europe, by the way, most "green" and energy-efficient technologies are introduced through the mandatory and prohibitive regulations.

The source - "Rossiyskaya Gazeta"