Improving energy efficiency in Ljubljana urban region

In Slovenia, energy policy is planned and implemented at the national and at the municipal level. The regional aspect is currently underserved, and the gap between the level of the National Energy Programme (NEP) and the level of the Local Energy Concept is wide. Filling this gap represents a considerable potential for improvements in the field of energy efficiency.

Ljubljana Urban Region (LUR) is not an administrative unit, and has no guaranteed revenues. Instead it serves as a diverse and asymmetric (the city of Ljubljana with over 50 % of the regional population, covering roughly 10 % of the area) framework for coordination of 26 municipalities with a common goal in energy efficiency – to prepare a regional development policy. It may form a missing link between official goals at national level and the implementation of those at the local, municipal level.

There is a lack of statistical data on some segments of energy sector at the level of regions and municipalities, as the Statistical Office of Slovenia mainly collects data at the national level. This makes planning at the regional level somewhat harder.

Nevertheless, it can be determined that the energy consumption in the years of 2003 – 2007 has increased in all municipalities in the LUR, mostly due to weak implementation of specified goals. Energy self-sufficiency rate in Ljubljana Urban Region is only 20 % and fossil fuels dominate in the energy production breakdown. Currently, energy from biomass (especially wood) is the most widely used renewable resource for heating (17 % of all resources in year 2008) and hydro energy for electricity production (17 % of all resources in the year 2007) in the region.

Energy efficiency target at EU level for 2020 is to increase efficiency by at least 20 %. Given the national level, the Ljubljana Urban Region is quite wasteful in terms of energy consumption, meaning that it is necessary for LUR to even exceed this goal. The high level objective for Ljubljana Urban Region is to improve energy efficiency in the region, starting with transport, buildings, industry and commercial and business sectors.

In contrast to the National Energy Programme, which consciously renounces the measures in the sphere of transport, leaving it in the responsibility of the transport policy, the Local Energy Concept indicates transport as one of the priority areas. According to the current trends, without implementing any measures, the use of energy in transport (which consumes one third of energy in the city of Ljubljana) will increase by 31 % until 2030. Energy policy cannot succeed without integral measures. In the sphere of traffic the aims to raise energy efficiency cannot be achieved without radical changes in modal split in the whole functional region of Ljubljana. Therefore measures that are planned in the Local Energy Concept for the city of Ljubljana considering cycling and public transport must be implemented in the whole region.

Energy efficiency in buildings is one of the main points where LUR is able to improve the energy consumption levels since most of the buildings, may they be residential or non-residential, are quite wasteful. The key potential is integrated energy renovation of older buildings and housing complexes, whereas newer buildings are mostly built following existing high energy efficiency standards. The major challenge is energy renovation of residential buildings. Crucial are integral renovation of heating systems, improvement of warmth characteristics of the cladding (facade) and implementation of other energy saving technologies in households.

The first systematic step towards lower levels of energy consumption in residential buildings, currently under implementation, is charging of district heating according to the actual usage of each household. In future it will also be necessary to integrally renovate older single-dwelling buildings and, especially in the cities, multi-dwelling buildings, which will probably be accompanied with great difficulties.

Another significant improvement in energy efficiency could be achieved by energy renovation of public and administrative buildings. A series of measures are planned in this way in the Local Energy Concept for the city of Ljubljana for buildings that are owned by the city. A great step would be to implement those measures at the regional level and evolve various instruments to encourage private owners of real estates to follow this example.

References:

– National energy program for 2010-2030 (January 2011)

– Local energy concept – Municipality of Ljubljana (November 2011)

– Local Action Plan of the Ljubljana Urban Region, Draft Final document, prepared within the INTERREG IVC EU2020 Going Local project (May 2012)

The article was prepared for the URBACT Programme, as part of the activities of the Slovenian URBACT National Dissemination Point

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