Pokupsko Municipality sustainable-energy transformation

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A beacon of sustainable energy for South-East Europe

The Municipality of Pokupsko is located in North-Western part of Croatia near the river Kupa. Surrounded by forests and hills, approximately 2 500 inhabitants in 14 settlements live in harmony with nature. Despite the municipality’s limited budget, it is developing in the most sustainable way possible and aims to be a positive example to other communities in South-East Europe.

In the last ten years a number of projects related directly to energy efficiency and renewable energy have been implemented. These include energy-efficient street lighting, heat pumps in kindergartens and schools, PV installations and energy retrofitting of municipality buildings, coupled with the first and currently only communal biomass heating plant in Croatia, which fuels a local district heating system.

Some 900 old and inefficient street lamps have been replaced with new LED lamps, resulting in 25 km of roads with energy-efficient lighting. In 2009 the reconstruction of the kindergarten was completed, including the instalment of a geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling, for a nearly zero-energy building. The next year another geothermal heat pump was installed in the district school Hotnja, replacing an old fuel oil boiler, again leading to considerable decrease in energy consumption.

A new PV system has also been installed on the roof of the municipal administrative building. The solar-energy powers the building, with surplus delivered to the electricity grid. And energy retrofitting of the building has resulted in considerable energy savings.

Finally, in 2015, after more than six years of preparation, Croatia’s first and only communal biomass heating plant was constructed. This now provides heating to 30 consumers – public and commercial buildings as well as households in the centre of the municipality – and more connections are planned for other parts of the municipality.

One reason the biomass heating plant has been established here is that almost 70% of the local area is covered with forests, many of them private. A biomass trade and logistics centre is now being established in Pokupsko to support use of local wood for heating, as a direct result of an EU-funded project (BioRES project) – Pokupsko Municipality participates in this through the North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency.

Through continuously investing in these various projects and maximising the use of financial incentives available from both national and EU funds, a considerable increase in inhabitant’s quality of life is visible. The final result of these investments is that currently more than 75 % of energy needs in Pokupsko are satisfied through local resources, with the plans to reach 100 % within next five years.

The municipality of Pokupsko is also implementing a number of non-energy projects as well promoting European cooperation on all levels (for example, projects focused on tourism). All projects are in line with the overall vision of Pokupsko as a 100 % sustainable community.