Today, Karlovac County are an unquestioned leader in biomass utilisation with impressive results, international references, reputation and ambitious plan
When the Karlovac County adopted their Sustainable Energy Strategy in 2009, they were just another small region in the South-East of Europe, heavily dependent on fossil fuels (mostly fuel oil) and without any experience in using biomass (except as fuelwood) despite their huge forest areas. Today, they are an unquestioned leader in biomass utilisation with impressive results, international references, reputation and ambitious plans – this is the GREEN ENERGY project!
The project was initiated by REGEA (North-west Croatia Regional Energy Agency) and it first started with households. Since 2009, Karlovac County is directly supporting the installation of small pellet boilers for family houses. In total, more than 200 families received a capital grant (usually 40-50% of investments) and the total installed capacity exceeded 4 MW.
In 2013, a multi-year program for replacing fuel oil with biomass in schools of Karlovac County started with the installation of the first biomass boiler in Duga Resa (wood chip boiler 300 kW with a 3000l hot water tank). Two new investments – this time applying a heat entrepreneurship innovative model – were made in 2016 for schools in Ozalj and Slunj (250 kW and 300 kW wood chip boilers). In 2018, another school in Duga Resa followed (300 kW boiler with a 3,000 liter heat buffer) and two new schools in Ogulin and Vojnic are already under preparation.
Total investments in school biomass boilers in Karlovac County already reached 1 million EUR so far. New biomass boilers projects are on their way as for eight schools project documentation is already prepared and ready. Biomass promotion is now an activity carried out also in the wider South-European framework as REGEA (as project coordinator) and Karlovac County teamed with their neighbours from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro using Interreg calls.
An encouraging trend is that the Green Energy project motivated Croatian policy makers to perceive the potential economic benefits of sustainable bioenergy, such as increased employment and earnings, regional economic gain and a contribution to securing energy supply among others. This represents a significant policy shift with regards to the old view in which, especially biomass, was viewed only as non-commercial or rural energy source.