Energy poverty and air quality
By Olivera Kujundzic
In general, energy poverty represents a concept of reduced access to energy, especially to modern, sustainable energy. One of the global sustainable goals is related to ensuring access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all.
Energy poverty is expressed by various indicators used to measure ratio between income, price and consumption of energy, but the most common is use of indicator according to which household is considered facing energy poverty if it spends more than 10 % of its income on energy.
Apart from high electricity prices in comparison with average income, allocation of additional financial resources for heating represents significant burden on household’s budget in Montenegro. Even 70% of households in Montenegro uses solid fuels for heating (68% firewood, 2% coal), while 28% uses electricity.
Calculation of energy value of energy sources in kwh in relation to average consumption shows that firewood is the cheapest source of energy, while electricity is on the top of the list as one of the most expensive energy sources for heating.
Out of households which use firewood for heating, some 60% are in rural areas, while even 40% percents are in urban areas. Such a high percentage is influenced by the fact that Montenegrin cities lack district heating systems, as well as the fact that in the residential sector 60% of buildings are individual (self-standing) family houses. Majority of family houses in Montenegro use inefficient firewood stoves, electric appliances or small HOBs (heat-only boilers) on LFO (light fuel oil). In multy-story buildings electric appliances are prevailing, while in Pljevlja there is a total 284 dwellings and 35 offices in the city center connected to lignit-fired boiler room, which, despite its small capacities represents a significant polluter in the urban center of Pljevlja.
Regulations on eco-design of heating appliances are under the preparation. In accordance with these regulations, heating appliances on solid fuels will have to comply with emission standards for air pollutants released during combustion of fuel, as well as certain level of energy efficiency. For example, new firewood stove will have to comply the condition of 65% of energy efficiency. The next step is related to certification of firewood, to ensure, inter alia, that wood used for heating is sufficiently dry in order to have maximum of calorific value and minimum of pollutant emissions released during combustion of insufficiently dry wood.
According to Monstat data, total consumption of firewood in 2017 was 672 035 m3, out of which 94.5% was spent in housholds. It practically means that every inhabitant of Montenegro use up 1m3 of firewood annualy. Results of a special survey done by Monstat in 2011, showed that out of total number of households which used firewood in 2011, only 13% had thermo insulations on their facilities, while great number of dwellings covered by this survey – 62% had doors and windows more than 20 years old.
Domestic heating significantly affects air quality in Montenegro, which is especially noticable through seasonal character and spatial distribution of pollution:
In accordance with data for 2018, annual mean concentration of PM10 was 58.77 µ/m3 in Pljevlja, 40.30 µ/m3 in Podgorica, 41.25 µ/m3 Nikšić and 27.86 µ/m3 in Bar. Annual limit value is 40 µ/m3.
Results of analysis conducted by the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro in cooperation with World Health Organization during 2016, air pollution in Montenegro causes more than 250 premature deaths and 140 hospitalizations annualy.
Air quality modelling perforemd within IPA project “Strengthening of capacities for air quality management in Montenegro” showed that exceedances of limit values of concentrations of particulate matters which are recorded in Montenegro especially during winter months could be greatly eliminated if 50% of innefficient firewood stoves would be replaced with 15% of pellet stoves and 35% of new, energy efficient firewood stoves.