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Bus to head energy efficiency drive

By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, March 26
On March 25 an ‘Energy Bus’ was presented at Expo Georgia exhibition hall by BP and a group of international organizations (USAID, Winrock International, EBRD and the OSCE). The Energy Bus project is designed to raise awareness of energy efficiency in Georgian communities and also help them buy energy efficient products. The project has been launched by the partnership of BP and international organizations and is also supported by Georgian experts and banks.

The Energy Bus is one component of a programme which will promote options that will help households reduce energy use and invest in alternative energy sources. The Energy Bus is manned by local NGO Energy Efficiency Centre Georgia and is a tool for giving practical demonstrations and information to promote energy saving in a creative way. It will visit Tbilisi districts and the surrounding area and subsequently villages and other cities across the country. The Energy Bus will provide consultations on alternative energy technologies and energy efficient biogas units, micro HES, solar panels, wind generators, sawdust heaters, insulation works etc. It will also distribute printed materials and videos, demonstrate working examples of alternative energy devices and provide information on the availability of subsidized loans for local communities for purchasing alternative energy devices.

The second component of the programme is the provision of cheaper credit to households interested in investing in energy efficient solutions. Grants from BP, made on behalf of its co-venturers, will be made available to help households purchase energy efficient products and devices. The loans are being introduced by EBRD and will be available through local banks in Georgia.

“We hope our new energy initiative will help Georgian communities improve their knowledge of energy saving options for the benefit of their household income, the environment and the overall economy of Georgia,” said Neil Dunn, General Manager of BP in Georgia. The Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Giorgi Kervalishvili, expressed his support for the programme. “The implementation of such a project is crucial for Georgia. It will improve livelihoods and reduce people’s expenditure. On the behalf of the Ministry I would like thank all involved in this project. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure will help programme implementers to inform the population about the project and new technologies through our regional networks. The programme is also important because it involves not only help and information but cheap credit issuance,” the Deputy Minister added.

US Ambassador John Tefft said, ‘I believe the Energy Bus project is a model for bringing together key stakeholders to increase the awareness of the general public and stimulate investments in, and increase access to, sources of finance for renewable and efficient technologies.” OSCE Ambassador Terhi Hakala stated that the new energy project will support the development of energy security in Georgia as is significant for the environment. “The OSCE is happy to support initiatives which address economic and environmental security issues. This is a very innovative and practical way to help communities look again at their energy consumption, diversify it, and help save money and the environment,” she added.

Irakli Mekvabishvili, Acting Head of EBRD’s Georgia Resident Office, said “These loans are part of the first energy efficiency facility for residential customers provided by the EBRD and other donors. It complements an existing facility, already made available to three Georgian banks, that targets energy efficiency and renewable energy in the corporate sector. The housing sector is an increasing area of priority for the EBRD, but it is also a more challenging one. This new financing, supplemented by the grant from BP and its co-venturers, provides an affordable mechanism for households across the country to improve their energy efficiency and decrease energy-related expenditures over the long term.”

To The Messenger’s question of how Georgian village residents will be able to afford such expensive alternative energy technologies, Neil Dunn replied that in the long term buying solar batteries and windmills is much more profitable. Villagers will receive cheap credits from EBRD and grants from USAID and other international organizations.