Transylvanian town Avrig has devised a strategy to make itself energy independent by 2030, while becoming a center for the use of renewable energy sources. The advantages of the project: the creation of new jobs, lower utilities bills and a good place to invest, live and visit, hopes the city hall.
Located at the foot of the Fagarasi mountains, 26 kilometers east of Sibiu, Avrig has 14,260 inhabitants, and is mainly known for its tourism potential. It covers 133.6 sqkm and is made up of four villages: Marsa, Bradu, Sacadate and Glamboaca. Avrig city hall representatives say they decided on the project because it was evident that in today’s economy fossil resources are becoming more expensive and rarer, and the competitiveness of a region will be influenced by the price of energy. They spotted the opportunity in thousands of unused hectares of land, which will be co-opted to cultivate crops for a planned biomass plant, develop organic farming and build several plants and power stations producing alternative energy.
The program, which is in an early stage, was at the basis of the Urbenergy project, which a team from the Avrig city hall proposed for financing to the European Commission in the Urbact II program. “Every city participating in Urbenergy has adhered to the strategy and vision proposed by Avrig and the cities agree to take all the necessary steps to become energy independent by using renewable energy sources. The project aims to create an urban environment that is energy efficient by developing an integrated framework to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy sources in an optimum way,” said Arnold Günter Klingeis, mayor of Avrig.
The total value of the Urbenergy project stands at EUR 75,000 and supports the European initiative 20-20-20 which aims to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, while increasing the use of renewable energy by 20 percent.
Four areas are targeted in the program. The Energy element looks at energy decentralization, modernizing the energy sector and implementing an alternative smart-grid network system. The Agriculture part looks at cultivating the unused plots of agricultural land, and implementing an ecological kind of agriculture that will incentivize the development of the local rural environment surrounding the city. The Technology chapter covers the know-how and technology transfer as well as communication, while the Social chapter deals with creating local jobs and raising awareness of energy efficiency solutions.
The program will be financed from several sources. European funding will be used to draft feasibility studies and technological scenarios through the Elena Facility. Government funds will be channeled into thermal isolation works, while local budget money will fuel the infrastructure works and promote the Center for Renewable Energy. Investment from external sources is also needed for setting up the unconventional energy units, and other types of industrial investment, in combination with European funds.
The project will be implemented through Enev-Avrig, a company established by Avrig’s local council to coordinate production, transport, and distribution of renewable energy produced on the Avrig administrative territory.
Several types of alternative energy will be produced in the project, which involves the set up of a biogas-based power station producing electrical and thermal energy. The EUR 7.1 million station is located in the Avrig center for renewable energy, and has a capacity of approximately 2 MWe (energy megawatts) and 2 MWt (thermal megawatts). The plant producing electrical and thermal energy based on biomass was located in the area of the former Marsa military unit. It has a capacity of 1 MWe and MWt, and is worth EUR 6.5 million. Two micro hydro power plans will be set on the Avrig river with a 2MW capacity each. The photovoltaic station in the Avrig renewable energy center has a capacity of 1 MW, and thermal isolation and the set up of photovoltaic panels will be carried out on blocks of flats and on the rooftops of public institutions.
“Local Energy, as an integrated model, can become a reality for several cities that wish to reposition themselves economically on a world trend – energy. With this the imports of fossil resources will be diminished, and a multiplying effect for the national economy will be created,” says Klingeis.