Municipality Vransko with bioenergy policy approach ensures cleaner energy from renewable resourses and greater energy self-sufficiency of the community.
The Municipality Vransko is a small community with 2526 inhabitants and covers an area of 53 km2. 75% of the land is wooded, forests are mainly privately owned, the property is small and fragmented.
Due to the large forest cover and the strategy of the municipality to become the greenest municipality in Slovenia, the energy centre was established with the aim to achieve a greater energy self-sufficiency by using a domestic source of wood biomass from surrounding forests in combination with solar collectors for hot water heating in the summer months, thus improving the quality of the air in the valley. The municipality established distanced heating system which is well accepted in the local community due to above mentioned advantages and also new job opportunities. Involvement of local community in the participatory process and well informed inhabitants about the local energy strategy and distance heating project from the planning phase on also contributed to better acceptance of the project. During the development of the system several workshops were organized to discuss main issues. Concerns and comments of participants were re-considered and project was adapted to the requests of inhabitants in the best possible way.
The municipality has also adopted official acts that stipulate to get buildings permits for new constructions in the area of the hot water plant, only if investors connect to the district heating system. Heating stations are for customers free of charge.
The total cost of 1st phase is 2.3 Mio. EUR with 14 years investment payback period.
The project was financially supported by the state's capital contribution to the public company, with grants from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and loan from the Ecological Fund of the RS.
Evidence of success
The energy centre has 12 kilometres of hot water pipes and it is heating 189 households, industrial buildings and all public users.
Due to the heating plant needs, a new local biomass market has been established, which significantly intensified the implementation of forest management plans, thereby contributing to the sustainable management of forests in the area.
The use of local resources has positive socio-economic impacts and contributes to sustainable local development.
Potential for learning or transfer
Careful spatial planning helped avoiding sealing of best agricultural land and expansion to natural environment; it reduced land use conflicts and contributed to nature conservation.
Cooperative planning and management with careful presentation of pro & contra arguments to the local community was an important factor for the successful implementation of this project -helped with better acceptance of the local community, avoided land use conflicts with local stakeholders, and turned this project into a best practice.
The use of local renewable energy sources has positive socio-economic effects (e.g. lover heating costs, new green jobs, additional income for local forest owners) and contributes to a sustainable local development (e.g. ecological rehabilitation of Vransko town, energy self-sufficiency of municipality).
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