Green Festival Overview
The primary purposes of the first Kosovo Green Festival were (i) to promote the growth of Kosovo green business markets, in order to expand sales and jobs for their local suppliers, (ii) to advocate for policy, legal, and regulatory improvements needed for green business growth, and (iii) to expand public awareness of the benefits of adopting green practices and technologies, and of how citizens can support environmental sustainability.
The “green” sector, covers a wide range of businesses in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and recycling. It offers substantial opportunities for economic growth and job creation, mostly in business that is entirely domestic. Examples currently active in Kosovo are production of biomass fuel pellets, collection of waste plastic for reprocessing into greenhouse covers, reprocessing of used motor oil, production of solar photovoltaic panels, and manufacturing of energy-efficient doors and windows, in which even the remainder flat glass is locally recycled by a third party into decorative wall tiles.
For the green industry to realize its full potential, government policy improvements are needed to stimulate renewable energy generation, energy conservation, and recycling.
The First Kosovo Green Festival was an initiative of the USAID EMPOWER project, to promote sales and employment in the green business sector, to help improve Kosovo’s ecology and beauty, and, more broadly, to help Kosovo contribute to the amelioration of global climate change. The Festival was intended to be the first installment of what will become a sustainable annual event in Kosovo, and could even grow into a larger regional show.
The Green Festival took place alongside the EXPOKOS Fair 2016 in Pristina, a multi-sector trade show operating for the past 15 years. The 3-day event, which was held over May 25-27, centered around operating business clusters in the renewables, energy efficiency, and recycling sectors. The Green Festival was a collaboration of private businesses, government agencies, donors, schools, and NGOs. The principal sponsors were USAID, German Development Cooperation, and ProCredit Bank.
The principal activities of the Green Festival were:
- The “Green Pavilion”, where 16 companies displayed their renewable energy, recycling, and energy efficiency products to the public.
- A “Green Forum”, which consisted of daily seminars focused on each of the three green business subsectors. The results of the forums are presented in the following sections of this report. For each Forum seminar, there were presentations by the cluster businesses, followed by a panel discussion among stakeholders (government, utilities, NGOs, and private companies) on the policy, legal, and regulatory issues that need to be addressed in order to grow green business and improve economy-wide energy-saving practices.
- “Parallel activities” to encourage public awareness and engagement in environmental sustainability and the “circular economy”, which took in public outside the main Festival venue.
The VIP grand opening of the Green Festival was held at the EXPOKOS/Green Pavilion on the morning of May 25, with remarks from Greg Delawie, US Ambassador to Kosovo, stressing the importance of the green economy on job creation in Kosovo and the opportunities therein. Remarks were also made by Ivo Šilhavý, Czech Republic Ambassador to Kosovo on business links between the two countries and the sharing of technology and resources. Ferid Agani, the Kosovo Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, focused on the importance of green business in the Kosovo’s environmental sustainability. Blerand Stavileci, Minister of Economic Development, spoke of the GoK’s commitment to renewable energy. Ilir Aliu, CEO of ProCredit Bank, which was a co-sponsor of the Festival, described the bank’s efforts in establishing and expanding a loan portfolio dedicated to the financing of energy efficiency investments by businesses and consumers.
Solar Energy Forum
The forum on solar energy took place on Day 1 of the Festival, 25 May 2016, focusing on the design and installation of solar systems in Kosovo. An overview was provided by Dr. Alicia English, Executive Director at Crimson Opportunity Development, Energy Natural Resources and Agricultural Research (ENRA).
Opportunities and Challenges of the Sector
- Low energy prices that impact the payback period for solar investments
- The need for uniform training and certification of installers
- Registration / tracking of existing and forthcoming solar installations, including off-grid
- Lack of regulation as to installations and connections
- Preparation of the grid for distributed generation (KEDS investment plan)
- Financing of solar energy-related installations, including combined equity/grants/loans packages
- Identification of suitable pilot areas for energy storage / sharing systems to minimize grid load balancing challenges
- The need for energy efficiency investments to go along with solar energy investments, given the higher costs per kwh of solar.
Opportunities and Challenges of Businesses
The panel of business representatives included:
- Gazmend Haxholli, CEO, JAHA Solar– Solar panels manufacturer
- Visar Kelmendi, CEO, Green Energy Technologies – Solar energy equipment installer
- Lulzim Syla, Managing Director, ELEN – Electrical and solar energy equipment installer
- The VAT on imported panels and components. In Kosovo, PV modules are taxed at 19% VAT, while elsewhere in the region and in the EU they have a 0% VAT rate. This discourages business and household investment in solar systems in Kosovo.
- The need for strengthened GoK professional capacities in energy policy, regulation, economic impact, etc.
- Lack of qualified individuals in the market, due to a lack of programs in vocational schools and universities for concentration in the areas of renewables and energy in general, as well as a lack of adequate literature and materials on these subjects.
- Lack of trainings on advanced electric system installation, building management systems (BMS) planning, renewable energy topics, etc.
- Lack of the government development strategy and support to aid energy innovation.
- Lack of construction standards and compliance with building codes and electro-energy / renewable energy / efficiency standards, leading unfair competition and misuse of the tendering process, hampering proper development of the sector.
- Enforcement of law, courts, and procurement.