Biofuel industry could play an instrumental role for sustainable rural development

Interview with Dafina Gercheva, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative:

Dear Dafina Gercheva, why UNDP puts such an accent on renewables?

In September 2015 all 193 members of the United Nations unanimously endorsed the boldest manifesto for humanity- 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs. 2030 Agenda is normative and transformative roadmap, which gives us a sense of direction and an action plan for the protection of the people and the planet, and for the promotion of peace, prosperity and partnerships. Curbing the negative impact of climate change through boosting the production and consumption of renewables and implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation measures is at the heart and at the center of the Global Goals. Goal #7 is explicitly dedicated to Affordable and and Clean Energy.

The Republic of Moldova is very vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and highly dependent from Russia on the import of gas and oil. Therefore, promoting renewable energy and investing in energy efficiency is a strategic national priority, which is high on the Government’s agenda.

Biomass energy is one of the most accessible and affordable sources of green energy in Moldova. Biofuel industry brings multiple development gains. It creates wealth, reduces fuel poverty, generates employment and accelerates equitable rural development. It also contributes to strengthening national energy security.

How would you assess the results of the Moldova Energy and Biomass Project?

The “Moldova Energy and Biomass” project, which is funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP, has yielded numerous and impactful results, which are instrumental for the achievement of national priorities, people’s aspirations, and country’s commitments vis-à-vis the 2030 Agenda and the EU Association Agreement.

Seven years ago, the country was almost totally dependent on fossil fuel imports, the heat comfort in public institutions and private homes in rural areas was very low, the use of modern biomass-based technologies was no existent, the knowledge of renewable energy and its multiple development benefits was poor.

More than 200,000 people have access to biomass heating systems and are enjoying improved working and living comfort.

Today, the share of the renewables in the energy mix has increased from 5% in 2011 to 14,7% in 2018, against the national target of 17% to be reached by 2020. More than 200,000 people have access to biomass heating systems and are enjoying improved working and living comfort. The heating costs and indoor pollution are lower in comparison to the baseline. More than 600 jobs were created by the new green businesses and the CO2 emissions are 70,000 tones less every year, etc.

The project has raised awareness among young people about the impact of renewables on country’s prosperity and resilience. Today more than 25,000 students have deep and comprehensive knowledge of renewables and have developed a passion and dedication to further promote the production and consumption of alternative energy sources by changing behavior patterns, mentalities and overall consumption and production practices.

The project provided a safe space for pilot-testing innovative solutions to the complex socio-economic and environmental challenges that are present in Moldova. Many of these experiments have already been scaled up.

How do you see the development of the renewables in Moldova?

Experience suggests that renewables are playing in an instrumental role in advancing sustainable development, promoting inclusive and green growth and reducing poverty and inequalities.

The Republic of Moldova has a huge and still untapped potential for producing and using renewable energy. Investments in biomass, photovoltaics and geothermal heat should be further promoted by establishing a conducive legal and regulatory framework, strengthening institutional capacity, sharing good business practices, innovative approaches and tools, and fostering public private partnership and intermunicipal cooperation, amongst others.

Moldova’s journey to low carbon economy has already started and should be further supported by the development partners, businesses and civil society.