A Greener Future on the Horizon for Kosovo

Oct 1, 2017


 

October 2017- The long winter months will soon bring coal grey skies in the capital Pristina. However, the recent Green Festival has hinted that a greener future is on the horizon for Kosovo. The turnout and interest at the festival held in Pristina in September has shown that Kosovars are attuned to the latest world trends in the green industry, and are willing and eager to adopt green energy solutions in their homes and businesses. This is a clear indication that Kosovo is quickly catching up to the global green energy movement. This second edition of the Green Festival was held to promote Kosovo’s green businesses and raise awareness and interest in recycling, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Organized by USAID EMPOWER Private Sector in partnership with Sida- Styrelsen för Internationellt Utvecklingssamarbete and supported by ProCredit Bank Kosovo, the objective of the event was to offer a networking platform for green businesses, government agencies, donors, and all relevant green energy stakeholders – and it certainly did do that and more.
 
This year, 23 local companies exhibited their Kosovo-made products at the Green Pavillion – a solid increase in number from the 16 that exhibited the previous year. It seems that Kosovars have learned a lot in one year. “Last year people picked up wood biomass pellets and asked what they were. This year they’re asking about the price for a ton,” said Ismete Thaqi from Thesari, one of the biomass pellet companies that exhibited at the festival. The exhibiting companies were thrilled at the turnout of around 2000 visitors at the festival, while visitors were delighted with the variety of businesses showcasing their products. The visitors were surprised to find that Kosovo is producing, for example, mosaic tiles from recycled glass, plastic insulation sheets from recycled waste, LED light bulbs, and solar photovoltaic panels, among other products. Many were there to find a good deal. In fact, 45 new sales contracts were made to the amount of €1.3million during the three-day event. Among them was a notable contract worth €300K for a 400kw solar energy project. Additionally, a few export sales were made in Albania, whilst negotiations were initiated for exports to Egypt and Switzerland.
 
Although green business and renewable energy are still relatively new concepts for many Kosovars, the strong turnout at the Green Forum sessions proved that there is a lot of interest in the industry. Over 200 people attended the forum presentations and discussions which comprised of eight sessions over two days. Attendees included energy sector professionals from the private and public sector, donor organizations, local and international financial institutions, business owners, students and green energy fans from a variety of professions. Thirteen of the 25 speakers came from reputable international renewable energy organizations such as Solar Power, IRENA, DNVGL and AEG. Presentation topics included latest trends in PV solar technology, price, support schemes, financing models, and the ESCO model. Kosovo green business owners found the forums interesting and beneficial as they learned about the future of the industry. “The forums at the festival are very good. Especially the first opening panel, where the international expert presented on the future of solar energy, and the information on the price changes in the industry were particularly interesting for our company Green Energy Technology (GET)", said GET owner Visar Kelmendi.
 
To promote the importance of 'going green', the festival also included many parallel activities which promoted renewable energy, recycling and the sustainable use of materials, creating much interest among visitors. The BONEVET creative space had a fascinating display of creations including Kosovo’s first electric car. Leading Kosovo architect Astrit Nixha from Anarch raised curiosity with his replica auditorium made from recycled and sustainable materials - the same as the one used in the environmental auditorium documentary “N’shpi te re”, the story behind the Klan Kosova building. There were also voting boxes where visitors could vote for their favorite football players with their plastic bottles, and a bicycle which made light when peddled.
 
Other parallel activities took place at the main city square that highlighted the sustainable use of natural materials through an architectural construct using textile, wood and rammed earth - a technique used for the first time in Kosovo. The multifunctional construct served as a reading corner and solar station where the public could charge their phones.
 
When the event was over and the lights were turned off, the organizers were pleased that they didn’t create waste in the environment. All the tables and booth boards specifically created for the event from chipboard material were granted to be reused by EMPOWER Private Sector beneficiaries BONEVET and KOSICT conference. Thus, the recycling continued after the festival, with the hope that some energy was instilled into people to support green business, and do their bit in making Kosovo greener.
 
The five-year USAID EMPOWER Private Sector project, which is also funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has been working since July 2014 to stimulate large-scale job creation by elevating the competitiveness of Kosovo firms in the growth-ready sectors of apparel, wood processing, ICT, renewable energy, tourism and metal processing. To date, the project has created over 2,300 new jobs across Kosovo, with plans to create a total of 5,000 new jobs by July 2019.
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