Closing and Continuing of the Climate Action Zlatibor Project

The Climate Action Zlatibor project, conducted in Croatia and Serbia, resulted with successful establishment and implementation of Competence Center for Energy Transition and Climate Change of the Zlatibor region in Serbia. The work of the Competence Center continues beyond the project by providing constant support in the field of energy transition and climate change challenges for this region with 330,000 inhabitants.

by Denis Premec, Regional Energy Agency North

Published: 16 June 2023

The project outcome in short

The project started in October 2020 and lasted 28 months. The project implementer, Regional Energy Agency North from Croatia, had the task of transferring the knowledge and best practice of an experienced energy agency to the implementing partner Regional Development Agency Zlatibor in Serbia, which established a new organizational department for this purpose – the Competence Center for Energy Transition and Climate Change. By the end of the project the Competence Center imposed itself as an important partner in energy transition and climate change mitigation planning for citizens, public administration and institutions, and market operators in the region. Both partners have strengthened local governments’ and stakeholders’ capacities by achieving a substantial change in awareness and interest in energy and climate changes.

Project outputs and achievements

The Competence Center employed the team of five experts to operate in a separate physical location which now also serves as a public showcase demonstration center for the Building Energy Management System, developed during the project. An important part of the project was focused on knowledge and experience transfer from REA North to the Competence Center team in the field of energy consumption analyses, energy planning, climate change mitigation and photovoltaic powerplants, all through master classes (workshops) and online training sessions. Both partners succeeded to ensure the political interest and commitment of a total of 16 urban and rural municipalities in Serbia and Croatia which enrolled in the Covenant of Mayors initiative.

This enabled us to produce two flagship studies – Joint Sustainable Energy and Climate Actions Plans (jSECAP). This was a long-term task with the duration of almost one and a half years, during which we had to collect, analyse and process huge amount of energy and climate data. Studies contain elaborated energy efficiency and climate mitigaton measures for local communities and now represent a formal obligation for project partners because they need to be officially updated every few years.

The Competence Center also succeeded to achieve visibility and imposed the Center as a trustworthy partner by conducting the series of seminars and workshops in the Zlatibor region for local authorities, public institutions, citizens, civil society, and SMEs to stimulate new projects and highlight opportunities of available local and national funding. The interest of the civil society, private and public stakeholders was much higher than planned. Reasons for increased interest were, among others, changed circumstances on the energy market in the last two years with main influential factor being disrupted supply chains due to pandemics, and especially the year 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and resulting energy crisis. These visibility and capacity building activities resulted with first close cooperations between the Competence Center and local authorities. The cooperation of the Competence Center with local authorities later resulted with five kicked project pilots from the field of energy refurbishment of buildings, with the main role of the Center as energy efficiency advisory prior to beginning of works of these pilot projects (three elementary schools, one community health center and one kindergarten). This is how the Competence Center used the transferred knowledge and experience from REA North and made its contribution to the local community.

Visiting the solar potential in Croatia, Photo: ©REA North
Project partners in Brussels, Belgium, Photo: ©RDA Zlatibor

The Center also selected appropriate buildings and with the help of external consultants prepared the analysis of solar potential of public buildings in the region. The analysis pointed out the possibilities for the production of electricity on various public buildings’ roofs in the region. Solar power plants on roofs are probably the most efficient way to utilize otherwise unusable surfaces, reduce reliance on traditional energy sources, and provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution for generating electricity.

During the course of the project, we also conducted two study tours and three workshops with experience transfer from university, local communities and agencies in Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Belgium to the Competence Center and its local stakeholders, which resulted with established connections for future international cooperation. With all these conducted activities the Competence Center for Energy Transition and Climate Change of the Zlatibor region opened many doors and opportunities for its professional growth in the future.

Read the full Climate Action Zlatibor report here.

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