Smart Energy Forum: Can Ukraine Become Energy Independent?

20 May 2014

The first Smart Energy Forum was held in Ukraine. Ukrainian and international experts discussed at LvBS energy security and “green” business in Ukraine with the event’s participants.

The Minister of Economy of Ukraine Pavlo Sheremeta welcomed the forum participants. He stressed that the Smart Energy Forum is very important for Ukraine. “If we combine efficient energy use, IT, and the education sector, we can increase Ukraine’s energy security,” he said during an online broadcast. He added that he is waiting for recommendations for action from the experts and participants of the environmental forum. These developments will be lobbied at the ministerial level, because “formal government leverage and the social processes originating at this conference are needed to promote green ideas,” concluded the Minister of Economy.

“The main resource for smart energy is our brain, our perception,” the founder of Greencubator Roman Zinchenko said during a discussion “Green Economy and Reality.” He said that energy has long been a weapon. “To look at energy as an environment of capabilities, we, Ukrainians, must abandon the perception of that we are solely as an object dictated by energy and begin to look at ourselves as a leader in energy. Due to our geographical location and technological base, we have to gradually abandon our passive role in energy policy and move to energy freedom,” he concluded.

Video: Roman Zinchenko: On 4 elements of energy freedom

Katharina Habersbrunner of Climate & Energy, WECF Germany, gave examples of international policy: “Forty-seven percent of solar generation in Germany is the property of citizens and cooperatives,” she said. “Twenty-five percent of the energy in Germany is renewable, and we are proud of this. This is an achievement felt by individuals, small ‘green’ projects, and large corporations.” The community played an important part in this positive trend, for in Germany the “green movement” was initiated by the citizens.

Nataliya Shulga, executive director of the Ukrainian Research Club, spoke about the movement from a green office toward a green economy. According to scientist, to accelerate the transition to a sustainable development outlook, we must go to places of learning. “Universities should be the places where young people can develop green technologies.” According to Nataliya Shulga, the lack of managers with a sustainable development outlook is a problem in business. “It is good that LvBS took responsibility to teach these people.”

Raffi Balian, first secretary and director of the Regional Environmental, Science & Technology, and Health Office for Central and Eastern Europe Theme, U.S., said that developments in green energy in Ukraine will be accompanied by failures, however: “If we do not try for large-scale deep innovation in the eco-sector (which passes through screening and failures), we will be stuck in system that is unfavorable and a monopoly.”

Raffi V. Balian: Why You Should Celebrate Your Failures?

During the second panel discussion, experts discussed the prospects of investing in the green economy. Yoram Krozer (University of Twente, The Netherlands), Andrey Kolodyuk (AVentures Capital), and Vadym Utkin (CEO Yunasko) agreed that there are many opportunities to develop green business in Ukraine, but the industry needs a lot of investment: “The main driver of energy policy for most regions was economic development,” said Yoram Krozer.

Andrey Kolodyuk, AVentures Capital, has been investing in projects for many years. According to the investor, there is money for investing in “green” start-ups. Тhe course for young innovators: “We need to create important and useful things. For example, mobile applications that will send a reminder to you if you forgot to turn off the iron or electric stove. Or imagine if you received a notification telling you that if you don’t turn on the conditioner for one day, you will not have a double tariff the following month. This is an opportunity for you, innovators, to create new products.”

Also Andrey Kolodyuk added that the use of gas is a Ukrainian security issue. “As part of the national idea, we can set ourselves the goal of becoming the first country in the world to abandon the B2C gas sector. I believe that it is possible, if we will work with you,” he said.

Participants of the third discussion panel discussed the topic of smart energy and the IT sector. Among the experts were: Dmytro Shymkiv, CEO of Microsoft Ukraine; Ivan Pasichnyk, CEO and co-founder of EcoisMe (Ukrainian startup in cleantech); Blake Burris, founder and chief activist (Cleanweb CEO & Hacktivist); Borys Lebeda (Luxoft Energy).

The Forum closing remarks were made by Zahary Shahan the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world​. He shared his opinion about the energy security of Ukraine from the perspective of international experience.

The outcome of the Forum on Clean Energy was a two-day Hackaton. Six teams of participants were tasked to create a business model for to develop cleantech prototypes and applications for the Internet, mobile devices, and social networks to promote energy saving and renewable energy. For the results of the hackaton and the teams’ projects, go to this link.

More photos from the Smart Energy Forum can be found here.