USAID Economic Resilience Activity ( ERA) supports strengthening bioenergy production to heat public buildings, private households and industrial facilities in east Ukraine, supporting the energy sustainability of local communities and their refusal from imported Russian gas.
The most promising source of feedstock for biofuel in eastern Ukraine is wheat straw, usually plowed under or burnt in the fields, and low quality wood from thinning shelterbelts along the fields. Bioenergy options include burning this waste without further processing (i.e. burning straw bales in large boilers), and making fuel briquettes and fuel pellets. Additionally, wood from catastrophic fires in Luhansk region in 2020 (affecting more than 25,000 hectares of forest) can be processed into biofuel.
Economically accessible wheat straw and wood resources are sufficient to convert most public buildings (schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc.) and private households in rural communities and small cities of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts from gas or coal to bioenergy.
Conversion to biofuel would:
- create jobs in remote rural communities
- provide an alternative income stream to farming enterprises
- reduce heating costs for municipalities
- reduce carbon emissions
- reduce air pollution from open field straw burning
- improve shelterbelts condition
ERA facilitates partnerships between bioenergy manufacturers, heating service providers and local municipalities, and provides technical and financial support to improve production capacity and retrofit boilers in public facilities. Experience in other regions of Ukraine shows that one of the most effective models in this sector is a vertically integrated enterprise including feedstock production, processing, transportation and provision of heating services.
ERA will organize seminars, study tours and one-on-one consultations to farming enterprises in eastern Ukraine to help them understand how to integrate bioenergy production and heating services into their activities.