The Smarter Stoves Partnership project contributes to the reduction of CO2 and black carbon emissions from individual devices for residential heating in households across the Western Balkans by establishing the regional platform for the replacement of inefficient stoves and by mobilising decision-makers, international financial institutions and development partners.

In this project, we collect and process information and perform targeted analysis and assessments to enable a variety of alternatives to the current heating practices in the Western Balkans, namely

(A) Technologies, and
(B) Financial and implementation schemes

whilst taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable populations, primarily exposed to energy poverty.

Finally, we are calling our project a

(C) “partnership”

as we recognise that the future change-out scheme will not be successful unless it brings together key stakeholders across some traditional demarcation lines, such are:

i) local, regional, national and international public policy decision-makers;
ii) public sector or government, private sector or businesses; civil society sector or NGOs and financial sector or banks and IFIs;
iii) economy, public finance, energy, environment, social protection and support services for the poor and marginalised, health, housing, and other sectoral policy-makers and related stakeholders;
iv) the six Western Balkans contracting parties to the Energy Community.

The Background

At least 3 million households in the Western Balkan region operate wood or coal stoves and ovens as the main source of heating. These devices, even when new, are inefficient, and consume disproportionally high amounts of fuel and emit large quantities of polluting substances. While biomass is considered carbon-neutral, in its life cycle its burning emits 0.35 kgCO2e per kWh of fuel energy. Given the real efficiency of the devices, the emission factor of useful energy is close to the emission factor of the Serbian electricity grid.

Improving the efficiency of biomass use for heating may significantly contribute to climate change mitigation in one of the three different ways:

a) saved wood may continue to capture the carbon in the forest;
b) it can be used as industrial wood or construction wood keeping the captured carbon; or
c) it may release its captured carbon in more efficient energy usage.

In addition, black carbon which is emitted in large quantities as a result of inefficient combustion is a climate force. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings indicate that black carbon emissions from the region contribute to the Arctic temperature rise. Removing coal from domestic use would also have a huge climate change mitigation impact. Biomass consumption in households in the region according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) is almost 2 Mtoe. CO2 emissions attributable to such burning amounts to more than 8 Gg. Those emissions can be largely displaced in a manner that delivers numerous private and public benefits through the implementation of bankable projects.

The recent World Bank (WB) studies and simulation models attribute the largest sources of PM 2.5 pollution to individual biomass heating. Burning wood (coal, plastic, waste) in inefficient devices and furnaces is the major source of provision of heating across the region. Such provision causes both indoor and outdoor pollution. Pollution is a combined result of the choice of fuel, the skill of the user and the efficiency of the device. All three factors are affected by poverty seen in a much broader sense than just income poverty.

As of 01st January 2022, a new standard for efficiency and emissions of individual space heaters are kicking in in the European Union as provisions of the Eco-design directive governing this particular area are becoming effective. From the perspective of this directive, the vast majority of 3 million devices used in the Western Balkans are obsolete. Their continued usage causes damage in different domains.