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Sustainable Energy Successees

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Renewable Energy



One of the most obvious forms of renewable energy for Central and Eastern Europe. Particular interesting are the use of waste wood for fuel to replace coal and manure for biogas. The use of waste wood is often cost-effective, but the wood is not always as close to the user as in the present example. Biogas plants can have a reasonable economy, as in the example here, but it is often difficult to make their prices competitive with current prices of energy from conventional sources. Usually, their other benefit, better handling of manure, must have high priority to justify biogas investments.
    Biomass use generates the highest employment of all renewable-energy sources. Replacing coal with biomass replaces jobs in coal mines with jobs in agriculture, biomass handling, and biomass energy plants.

Biogas in Slovakia
The interest in using biomass for energy production has been growing over recent years, along with realisation of the environmental effect caused by use of fossil fuels. In Eastern and Central Europe, where the prices of fossil fuels has raised dramatically since the collapse of COMECON and the socialist political system, the idea carries economical incentive as well. Slovakia imports nearly 90% of its energy.
    Biogas plants are most efficient on larger farms, where the animals can provide the plant with sufficient amounts of manure. Biogas plants may also be advantageous in light of the local environmental problems often caused by large, concentrated populations of farm animals. Many of the post-communist countries continue to practice an agriculture dominated by large-scale farms.
    Since 1989, the number of large-scale farms has been decreasing in Slovakia, as have the numbers of animals (cattle, pigs, and poultry) on the farms. Nevertheless, there is still a high potential for biogas production in Slovakia, and it is nearly unused. Today, 45% of the fattened pigs are kept on farms with stabling for 500-1,200 animals and 30% on farms with stabling for more than 1,200 animals. 94% of the dairy cows and 90% of young and fattened cattle are kept in farms with stabling for 100-500 animals. Thus, the technical potential for energy produced by biogas in Slovakia has been calculated to be 4,190 GWh/year.

Replacing nuclear
In CEE, biogas technology is introduced in several countries, not only in Slovakia. In Lithuania, a farm biogas plant was installed in a village near Kaunas in the spring of 1998. With its three biogas digesters of steel, 300 m3 each, it will treat the sludge of 10,000 pigs and produce 2 mill. kWh of electricity, replacing nuclear power production. It was designed by the Danish Folkecenter for Renewable Energy and mainly produced by Lithuanian companies that now possess the technology to produce more plants.