USAID Energy Security Project supports the energy resilience of local communities

September 9, 2023

To build the long-term energy resilience of local communities, the USAID Energy Security Project (ESP) conducted a webinar on potential alternatives to natural gas in district heating to help municipal leadership strategically plan energy sector development, specifically heat systems.

The webinar attracted 155 representatives from district heating companies (DHCs). During the event, participants learned more about technological solutions in district heating for alternative fuel options such as liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, peat, and municipal sludge, among others.

This seminar is part of a series that USAID ESP is conducting to discuss current heat supply issues in Ukraine and the potential for using small and medium-capacity cogeneration units (CGU).

Screenshot by the USAID Energy Security Project (ESP)

Diana Korsakaite, the USAID ESP’s District Heating Sector Lead, noted that the issue of multifuel is extremely relevant to determining a long-term strategy to ensure the sustainability of heat supply, including for Ukraine’s post-war recovery.

Andrii Vedmid, Head of the Heat Supply Unit of the Department of Communal Utilities at the Ministry of Infrastructure, stated that the possibility of simultaneously using alternative fuels and traditional energy sources supply facilities is significant and works to facilitate heat supply resilience.

USAID ESP brought together many key stakeholders to discuss, among others, legislation framework, for example, the Law of Ukraine “On Critical Infrastructure,” which greatly impacts the heat systems development process.

Oleksandr Sukhodolia, Head of the Department of Critical Infrastructure, Energy, and Environmental Security of the Center for Security Studies of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, spoke about the obstacles of legislative, organizational, and methodological frameworks to support and build the energy resilience of communities. The expert drew participants’ attention to the Law of Ukraine, “On Critical Infrastructure,” adopted in December 2021, which defines energy infrastructure as one of the keys to the life support of local communities.

“The idea of a national system of critical infrastructure protection includes two main components: the safety and resilience of critical infrastructure functioning and the provision of vital services. Local executive authorities are responsible for developing local programs to ensure the safety and resilience of critical infrastructure facilities, programs to increase the resilience of local communities to crises and disruption of critical infrastructure functioning, as well as local plans for interaction in the event of disruption of critical infrastructure functioning,” said Oleksandr Sukhodolia. He called local communities to pay special attention to the issue of critical infrastructure resilience planning, as it will be one of the key issues in shaping the strategy for ensuring the life support activities of communities in the coming years.

During the seminar, participants discussed the technical capabilities of modern technologies to replace natural gas at boiler houses of district heating companies. These fuels would be a backup and main heat production and power generation option. They include liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, biofuels (wood, biomass pellets, sunflower husks, straw, municipal sewage sludge, municipal solid waste, peat, etc.), liquid hydrocarbon mixtures, and others.

Experts noted that not all gas boilers can be used for biomass combustion; therefore, it is necessary to consider modernizing boiler houses and installing new efficient equipment at existing boiler houses. These improvements will further enhance the existing infrastructure facilities and meet the environmental requirements of the legislation.

Yevhen Nikitin, USAID ESP expert, summarized the workshop results and noted that the presentations by participants clearly demonstrated that Ukraine has considerable experience in using various alternative fuels in the industrial sector. This experience is extremely valuable for the municipal heating sector to strengthen local communities’ capacity and support the overall functioning of critical infrastructure facilities to continue providing vital services, including energy supplies.

Presentations from the webinar are available via the link, recording – on USAID ESP YouTube.