Interview with Ulrike Straka, Commercial Advisor at the Austrian Embassy
Ms. Straka, for the 11th consecutive year the Austrian pavilion of seeSUSTAINtec2020 will present eco-innovations from Austrian companies. Why should we invest in them?
Austria is at the forefront of technologies that help protect the environment and improve sustainability - waste management, recycling, energy efficiency, renewable energy, air pollution technologies, and water management.
Whether it is a family business with traditions or start-ups, there are many companies in Austria with high prestige and strong market presence around the world. For Austria, whose 5% of GDP is generated by the tourism industry, the Nature's Protection topic is not only a modern and up-to-date issue, but a problem that has been working for years and we are creating new products and technologies.
At the Austrian Pavilion and the Advantage Austria‘s booth, I would like to invite anyone with an interest in energy efficiency and waste management. The Austrian companies will present screening machines, vibroconveyors and magnetic separators, on board weighing and identification systems, biomass boilers, heating systems.
In 2020, we introduced a new accents in the exhibition - clean air. This is a great challenge for Bulgaria. According to you, which measures will be the most efficient?
To solve the problems with the air quality a complex of actions should be taken in the following areas: heating, industry and transport.
I would also like to emphasize the possibilities for a staff qualification upgrade in the municipal and state structures, as it has the power to implement different measures.
Continuous investment is needed in district heating systems, small RES installations, biomass thermal power plants and the use of geothermal energy.
Minimizing energy losses is the great opportunity for Bulgaria to improve its energy intensity. In this context, a logical step is the continuation and extension of the building renovation program.
The transport also contributes to air pollution. Stimulation of people to leave their cars, regular, accessible and large-scale urban transport, bike lanes, bicycle parking – all these measures will make sense. Targeted advertising campaigns are needed to raise public awareness - events, initiatives involving students, etc.
Do you see any positive changes in Bulgaria and what can our country borrow from Austria to accelerate its sustainable development?
There are projects that can serve as а benchmark in hydro power and public transport. Of course, there are many interesting projects in Austria that can be implemented. In these cases, the use of the 'copy & paste' approach is incorrect, as all local factors must be taken into account.
А good example is the cogeneration and small-scale biomass district heating plants that work in many municipalities in Austria. In this way, Austria avoids the problem of the electricity grid, which exists between North and South Germany. In Austria, the plants are small, easy to maintain, and not many regions are affected when the plant is shut down. Rather, it works with the motto "Small and Enough" / "Klein aber fein".
Unlike Austria, Bulgaria has a huge potential in the utilization of geothermal energy. А missed opportunity is the non-use of this valuable resource for residential heating (schools, kindergartens, greenhouses).
Austria has stated its intention to be the first carbon-neutral country by 2040. Can you please mention some of the steps to achieve this goal?
Among the steps is a special tax reform, based on environmental criteria and measures. Lower taxes will encourage environmentally friendly behavior and thus have a positive impact on both citizens and businesses.
Serious investments are also envisaged to expand public transport, incl. the rail network, as well as attractive ticket prices. Specific measures will be created and communicated in the coming years.