More and more countries throughout the world are starting to rely more on renewable energy and energy efficiency as a means of sustaining the current environment for future generations. While many people do not often think of Eastern European nations in this mix, the truth is that a number of them are taking great strides in the field of clean technology. Many of these countries are much newer, having been established after the breakup of the Soviet Union and then some after, and have extremely poor sectors. The increase in renewable energy and energy efficiency marks a new era in these countries where everyone can get the necessary energy needed to run their homes.
1 ) Bulgaria, aside from solar energy, offers much in renewable development opportunities. Currently, there is over 12,000 megawatts of installed capacity in the country. Because Bulgaria imports more than 70 percent of the required fuel, the country has been very interested in looking for renewable sources of energy. Bulgaria has a very sizable geothermal energy reserve and has over 90 percent arable, agricultural land that is perfect for the future development of biomass. As part of its National Energy Strategy, Bulgaria wants to make efficient water resource one of its primary 2020 goals.
2 ) Ukraine has had a system to support renewable energy sources since the 1990s. For example, in 1996, the president of the country declared that wind generation would be a national priority and created a 200 megawatt target by the year 2010. So far, Ukraine has had 40 megawatts of wind capacity installed but has a number of programs in the pipeline as more than 40 percent of the country is ripe for wind potential. Ukraine also has a number of geothermal resources and there are currently plans in motion to increase thermal water utilization to more than 250 MWth. For biomass, Ukraine offers lumber mill waste, livestock manure, as well as straw. The livestock manure has been looked into for biogas power generation.
3 ) Uzbekistan is full of gas and oil resources with result in the creation of low tariffs as well as lack of government incentive to develop renewable sources aside from hydropower. However, there are current plans to develop the country’s power industry by building a number of hydropower and thermal power plants. Because of the weak winds throughout the country, there are no plans for any real wind installation. However, because of the climate conditions in Uzbekistan, solar energy is very favorable. The country is looking to expand on it, for example, in September of 2011, the country made the announcement that they are looking to establish a Solar Energy Institute by 2013 for research and development purposes.
4 ) Moldova, completely dependent upon the Russian Federation, Romania, and Ukraine for imported energy sources, has made renewable energy a very high priority for the country. Moldova created their own National Energy Regulatory Agency to aid in the renewable energy program. According to sources, there is an estimated 1,000 megawatts of potential wind energy in the western, southeast, and northeast quadrants of the country, there is also potential for development in the hydropower industry. Biogas is also a possibility. In March of 2011, Mercando Green Technology invested €25 million to construct Moldova’s first biogas production plant.
5 ) Croatia, having just become a country in 1991, is still looking to restructure as well as liberalize and privatize its energy sector. Most of Croatia’s energy supply comes from natural gas, crude oil, and hydro power. Because Croatia imports over 30 percent of its electricity, it wants to look more toward self generation. Wind and geothermal are the most promising renewable sources of energy in Croatia. In the Adriatic islands there is more than 150 megawatts of potential wind power. Orient Green, for example, started plans in September of 2011 to generate 10.5 megawatts of wind power in Croatia. Croatia also offers a favorable location for solar generation and provides a favorable feed-in tariff program.
6 ) Belarus modeled their own feed-in tariff for renewable electricity in 1994 after the Electricity Feed Law in Germany. However, because of limited government movement, it is difficult to gain outside financing for energy projects. This is something the government needs to work on. While Belarus does not offer much potential for wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal capabilities, they do have a lot when it comes to biomass sources, including wood. There are more than 400 boiler plants in the country that operate with wood and other fuel sources.
7 ) Romania has seen an increase in the demand of electricity as the economy continues to expand. Because of this, a number of projects are now underway. Biomass, wind and hydro are the most promising sources of renewable energy. Romania offers much potential in off-shore wind development, which is around 3,000 megawatts. Biomass development is also white possible as well. In May of 2011, Farmers’ Ethanol, a company from the United States, was making plans to initiate a $150 million investment in bio-ethanol production in the country.
8 ) Poland houses a number of favorable economic and technical factors for renewable energy. The government and the people are looking to shift away from fossil fuels and develop their renewable sources of energy. By 2020, Poland wants renewable sources to count for at least 14 percent of their energy production. The most promising areas of development in the country are wind and biomass, with around 4,000 MWe for each. Solid and liquid biomasses are the primary sources of Poland’s renewable energy for both thermal energy and electricity production. As well, in the beginning of October 2011, IKEA purchased two new wind farms with a combined output of 28 megawatts in southern Poland.
9 ) Hungary has made the commitment to have at least 2.6 percent of all electricity needs supplied by renewable sources of energy by the year 2012. The main area of renewable energy consumption in Hungary comes from biomass. There is possibility for wind development but a lack of wind measurements currently puts that on the back burner. Solar production is not very well received in Hungary because of lack of solar insulation levels mixed with the rising cost of solar photovoltaics.
10 ) Russia has a large possibility for wind power generation. If the country were to utilize only 25 percent of the total potential, the country could retain around 175,000 megawatts of power, which is some of the highest anywhere in the world. Hydro and biomass potential in Russia is also quite large. However, renewable energy development is hindered in Russia due to no legislative mandate, low tariffs, and lack of investment capital. Although, it is a primary location because of the magnitude of renewable energy potential the country offers.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.