Bosnia and Herzegovina & Croatia: Energizing innovation

Learning by candlelight in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A new challenge is helping change that (Photo: UNDP in Bosnia and Herzgovina)

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Global renewable energy challenge

Almost 3,000 war returnee families in Bosnia and Herzegovina live without electricity, mainly because of prohibitive electrical grid hook-up costs. Veliko Ocijevo village, for example, with 20 households, needs 350,000 Euros to get commercial electricity up and running again, or roughly 17,500 euros per household.

Together with Nesta, a leading innovation consultancy NGO, UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a global challenge seeking renewable energy solutions for war-returnee families living off the power grid in rural areas. The successful proposal had to cover the energy needs of an average family and cost only 5,000 euros. It also had to be flexible, reliable, easy to install, maintain and replicate, with good battery life and hot water capacity, and low maintenance costs.

The best of the 37 entries received by UNDP and Nesta were field tested for two months. The winning unit, designed by “elefon inzenjering” from Serbia, was a solar unit that actually provided more energy (2kw) and longer battery storage capacity (4.65 days) than specified in the challenge.

Since then, the UNDP-installed renewable energy kits have transformed 36 families’ lives. They can supplement their income selling cheese and dairy products, which was impossible before the renewable energy system was installed. Their children can do homework under electric light, not candle light, and they can watch TV or listen to music as their peers do elsewhere.

UNDP is currently negotiating with international donors and the government to extend the project to cover more beneficiaries with this initiative. UNDP will install more renewable energy kits in Veliko Ocijevo, making it the first village in Bosnia and Herzegovina completely running on renewable energy — solar for electricity and domestic hot water and biomass for heating.

Croatia: Innovative school uses crowdfunding for solar power

Ostrog, Croatia Primary Schools gets outfitted with solar panels (Photo: UNDP in Croatia)

When the Ostrog Elementary School community in Kaštela decided to create the first energy independent school in Croatia, they turned to crowd funding to supplement $10,000 seed funding from UNDP RBEC.

Using the fundraising website Indiegogo, Ostrog School raised an additional $10,000. They combined this with the UNDP’s seed funding, and an additional $12,000 from local and live concert donations. The local county provided additional funds that were used for hydro and thermal insulation of the roof, as did a private company. All told, the school raised US$ 120,000 thus showing how crowdfunding can be a good way to attract further investment.

The school lights are being changed to efficient LED lights, and a 25kW solar power plant is being built on the school’s roof. Soon, Ostrog Elementary School will actually be electrical energy independent, with the school annually producing as much electricity as it is consumes.

Known for its lush botanical gardens, thriving greenhouse and efforts toward environmental protection, Ostrog wants to develop a cost- and energy-saving model to help Croatia’s 2,000 elementary schools produce energy through the installation of renewable systems, retrofitted buildings and a hands-on approach to environmental literacy among their students.

The next steps for Ostrog Elementary School are to find a way how to switch from heating oil to biomass, and to help other schools to replicate what they’ve done.

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