‘If you invest in energy efficiency then you will reduce the cost for the state and everybody’

‘If you invest in energy efficiency then you will reduce the cost for the state and everybody’

“EU4Energy high-level conference: Unlocking energy efficiency potential in Armenia” is taking place in Armenia. The event aims to identify priority areas for reforms and investments in energy efficiency in the buildings’ sector in Armenia.

Urban Rusnak, Secretary General of Energy Charter Secretariat told Aravot.am that they are trying to assess energy investment risks in Armenia: “Here we have seen a very quiet high score. And Armenia indeed has significantly improved the investment climate over the last couple of years”, says Mr. Rusnak. “Together with implementing the energy efficiency standards and addressing issues which are perceived as risks for investors in Armenia, would provide with better tools to improve the well-being of the country. If you spend less on energy resources you can spend more on some other issues.”

According to him, if Armenia uses new technologies and invites investors, it also needs to take care of the risks and potential problems that investors may face: “I think that the key element is the generous engagement of the government of Armenia in attempt to improve investments climate and improve energy situation. You went through a difficult period a few decades ago when you had energy blockade. Now you are hopefully entering a period when you know what you are looking for, you do understand what needs to be done to make sure that investors are coming and they will stay in Armenia to make sure that your population, your industry has as much energy as needed and for as affordable price as possible.”

Urban Rusnak added that when you improve energy efficiency you are saving decades to come when you don’t do it then you are spending decades to come: “Therefore those activities are not always visible as introducing a new solar station as we did today in Talin, but they bring gradual change into society, into economy”, says Mr. Rusnak adding, “the government is committed, so we have seen the results – energy efficiency law has been prepared. Now we are preparing a recommendation on investment – how to diminish the risks related to energy investments. We have seen the commitment of the government to work the years to come.”

Mr. Rusnak explains that the real impact of the project can be seen in Armenia in a couple of years: “At first, you need to have a good law, then you need to make sure that the law is enforced and implemented. If it is not implemented then you need an instrument, a leverage to force. If there is a law, it requires new buildings to have the level of energy efficiency you have to obey. As it is not because of something which comes from the top.  If it is not done properly so you will raise the money year by year, every time when you will put up the heating, every time you will lose money,” says Secretary-General adding, “it is not enough to have a law, if the law is not implemented and people don’t care and the state is unable to enforce, they can go and check to see, you didn’t so have to pay the fine, you have to be punished.”

Urban Rusnak explains that there will be a day that people will pay less for the energy, but people demand immediate solution and in energy policy generally,  there are no fast solutions: “Armenia still is getting the cheapest gas from Russia, so this is a political decision. You need to be ready that at a certain point of time this could come to the end. You have to learn from the history decades ago Russia was supplying many countries with the same gas level as Armenia, today it is two of them. You can imagine that bringing gas from Russia to Armenia costs a lot. So, this is not sustainable in a long run.”

The secretary-general highlights that there is a need to have more efficient buildings and more efficient system otherwise at the moment when the situation will change citizens could do nothing: “If you don’t invest now then you will be trapped”. According to him if the people do not have incentives as they pay very few amounts of energy and there are not punishments: “If you invest in energy efficiency then you will reduce the cost for the state and everybody. I see that the government of Armenia has a very clear understanding of it.”

Ami CHICHAKYAN

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