Project IRENE: Replacement of Mercury Lighting in Zadar, Mostar, Tivat

Lauren Simmonds

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic
Zadar, Croatia
Zadar, Croatia

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 28th of August, 2020, Zadar County was shortlisted for the best EU project with Project IRENE – Interregional Renewable & ENEergy efficiency network“, which was registered within the category of Contribution to cross-border cooperation.

The leading partner in the project is the Zadar County Development Agency ZADRA NOVA, while the partners are Zadar County, the DELFIN Eco Centre from Montenegro, the Municipality of Tivat, the Association for the Economic Development from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the City of Mostar.

Project IRENE took place at the locations of Zadar County (Zadar, Smilcic, Korlat, Lisicic, Bibinje, Vinjerac, Novigrad – Gajine, Galovac, Privlaka), then outside of Croatian borders in Mostar, Tivat, Neum and Jablanica. The implementation of the project began on the 1st of July 2017 and lasted until the 31st of December 2019.

The total value of the project is 1,915,820 euros, and the amount of paid grants stands at 1,628,447 euros. Of that, other funds poured into the project amounted to 287,373 euros.

The aim of Project IRENE was to contribute to the protection and preservation of nature by encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources in border areas through joint development and the networking of local energy management systems, as well as to actively encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy systems in the public sector.

The value of the project is visible through the development of a common network of project ideas and enabling the development of new initiatives, specialist training and the equipping of existing and new energy efficiency teams with specialised equipment, as well as investing in infrastructure. Thus, Projct IRENE replaced the existing lighting systems that used mercury lighting with highly energy efficient lamps and installed a solar power system for the preparation of domestic hot water in these cross-border areas. The lighting system was replaced at locations in Zadar, Mostar, Tivat, Neum, Smilčcic, Korlat, Lisicic, Bibinje, Vinjerac, Novigrad, Galovac, Privlaka and Jablanica.

“The ZADRA NOVA Agency has given its contribution to the realisation of the European Union’s energy and climate plan 20-20-20 with the planning and implementation of projects such as IRENE. Project IRENE is a step towards achieving the set goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the share of renewable energy sources in total energy consumption and lower energy consumption compared to what is expected in the case of the non-implementation of special measures,” said the director of ZADRA NOVA, Marina Dujmovic Vukovic.

”In accordance with the obligations accepted by signing the energy charter and the letter of intent, Zadar County has expressed a lasting interest in implementing activities to improve energy efficiency. Zadar County has authorised the ZADRA NOVA Agency to implement systematic energy management activities in its administrative area. These activities are regularly performed by the Agency, either through the monitoring of energy consumption in public buildings, consulting with the aim of saving or entering data into registers and data monitoring systems.

The lasting result and foundation of further work is the base of ideas and network of projects in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources developed through Project IRENE. It is therefore expected that the number and quality of projects in the field of energy that will be applied by local and regional self-government units and institutions will increase through a partnership approach to open tenders of European and national funding sources. In the seven-year period ahead of us, through two financial packages, over 22 billion euros will be made available to Croatia, and a significant part of that amount is aimed at encouraging energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. Thanks to Project IRENE, the ZADRA NOVA Agency and Zadar County are more prepared for the opportunities that will be provided by the new, multi-year financial framework,” Vukovic added.

Through Project IRENE, in Zadar County alone, 510 energy efficient lighting fixtures were modernised, in the Herzegovina-Neretva County in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 605 lighting fixtures were modernised, and in the area of ​​Boka Kotorska in Montenegro 593 lighting fixtures were modernised and one solar power system was installed for the preparation of domestic hot water. The old lighting at the pilot sites was inefficient, mostly mercury-based, and didn’t comply with light pollution rules. The installation of new, environmentally friendly lighting fixtures has increased the savings of the system, which, when compared to mercury lighting, amounts to a minimum of 80 percent of the installed power. In addition, the modernisation of lighting systems at pilot sites aims to raise awareness of the possibility of financing projects in the field of energy efficiency from EU funds.

The education of children was also conducted and the population and the public sector were encouraged to use renewable energy sources and get better acquainted with energy efficiency through a specially designed promotional campaign. A specially designed play for children with the aim of educating them about energy efficiency and nature protection was shown 12 times. Consumer energy monitoring systems have also been installed with a display of consumption, savings and real-time statistics for three public buildings in the cross-border area, and energy audits have been prepared for 13 public buildings.

Pilot projects

“Zadar County has long decided to encourage renewable energy sources and this project is just one of the activities in this direction. What was especially interesting for us and what prompted us to enter this project is directing EU funds to the rural part of the county and the opportunity to use the funds to rebuild communal infrastructure and at the same time achieve significant savings,” said Bozidar Longin, Zadar County Prefect County.

”Through this project, we’ve managed to strengthen the social, economic and territorial development of the programme area through the implementation of joint interventions in the field of environmental protection and sustainable energy. As part of Project IRENE, Zadar County also organised and implemented a promotional campaign with the aim of raising awareness in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources,” he noted.

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