Efforts to increase energy efficiency in the Czech Republic gaining steam

By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 the Czech Republic has committed itself to reversing the damaging effects of climate change. A major element of the Kyoto Protocol is the enhancement of energy efficiency and conservation.

In the past energy efficiency has been often neglected in the Czech Republic: during communist times the solution to increasing energy demands was simply to generate more electricity. The recently completed Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia is a perfect example of this. However, a number of factors, including the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the implementation of energy conservation measures as required by the European Union, and a generally increased sense of environmentalism among Czechs has led to the development of increased energy efficiency measures.

In the coming days Prague will host a conference entitled Energy Efficiency Business Week. Director of the conference Jiri Zeman:

As the name suggests its focused on energy efficiency and also how to utilizes energy efficiency in a cost effective way, how to make business opportunities in energy efficiency. I think the energy efficiency business week is the largest conference of this kind which is held in Central-Eastern Europe. Its a meeting place for people with experience in energy efficiency from all countries that have developed economies from Western Europe, North America, Canada. They have the opportunity to join in discussions with people from Central Europe.

On the eve of the conference I also spoke with Jaroslav Marousek who is director of the Energy Efficiency Center. The center is a non-governmental organization whos main goal is to support and promote energy efficiency in the Czech Republic. I asked Mr. Maousek how the Czech Republic compares to other EU states in this regard.

When we compare energy efficiency, the Czech Republic is in a bad situation. But the main guilty party is the low economic efficiency of our economy and maybe less responsibility is on energy efficient technology. But, energy efficient technologies and dealing with energy is not only technologies. Dealing with technology in the Czech Republic is still on a lower level in comparison to Western European countries. And thats what we strive to improve.

A major contributor to increasing energy efficiency in the region is the United Nations Development program or UNDP. Susan Legro who is the regional coordinator for energy and climate change says the United Nations Development Program is involved in the region, including the Czech Republic:

We support about 50 projects in the Eastern European and C.I.S. region through the global environmental facility which is a multi-governmental facility to support environmental projects.

Can you give me a specific example for the Czech Republic?

Well the specific example for the Czech Republic would be the low cost, low energy housing project that we have had here for several years. Its based on the principal that energy efficient housing shouldnt cost any more then regular housing. That with smart design and efficient materials you can build something that costs the same or even less. I think this project have proven itself in the cities that its working, so we are very interested in how me might replicate the project in other countries.