GREEN FUTURE Stoves in Skopje pollute as much as 17 million cars

The data from the survey “Skopje is heating”, conducted by the UNDP Program in cooperation with the City of Skopje and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, shows that stoves in 17 municipalities in the Skopje Valley in one heating season pollute as much as 17 million old diesel cars would pollute in the same period if they were to pass 20 km a day in the same heating season. It is a first comprehensive survey on the heating practices in the Skopje Valley, conducted on a representative sample of 5.044 households, one thirds of which are citizens of the rural areas around the capital city.

According to the study, it is estimated that in the Skopje Valley there are 133.633 households of which 73.220 (almost 45 percent) use wood for heating, around 51.000 (31 percent) use electricity, while 35.000 or 21 percent are connected to the central heating system. Only 2500 households, or 1.5 percent, currently use pellets stoves.

The main findings of the study are that “Heating is the largest air polluter in the Skopje Valley, of which heating of households in the greatest part” and that “The studies performed in these past two years show that 90% of all emissions of PM particles come from heating (firewood) of households.

The findings and recommendations of the research, in which all state analyses and plans have been taken into consideration, are described in five documents. The third document 2017-2025 Roadmap for reducing local air pollution in the Skopje Valley caused by household heating, contains examples on how much a single family pollutes, in comparison to one automobile.

“According to the information from the poll, a family in the Skopje valley during the heating season spends 8,38 m3 of firewood. The firewood that they use has 20% humidity (acceptable humidity). According to this, one family emits around 41 kg PM2.5 in the atmosphere, that is, 42,5 kg PM10 during the heating season.

To see how much this household pollutes the air, a comparison has been made with emissions from an automobile.

“One member of this family living in Gjorche Petrov goes to work to Aerodrom and passes 20 km both ways per day. The family has a pretty old diesel car manufactured in 2000 and running on EURO 3 standard fuel emitting 0.05g/km of PM (cars running on gasoline make no PM emissions). During the heating season, this family passes 3,600km by its car, and thus emits only 0.18kg of PM during the entire heating season”.

“So, it can be concluded that a family using firewood emits as much PM in the atmosphere as 230 cars running every day and passing 20 km a day each”, is concluded in the comparison.

With this ratio, 73.220 households that use wood for heating in the Skopje valley pollute as much as 16.840.600 diesel cars running on EURO 3 standard fuel and passing 20 kilometres a day during the entire heating season.

“If this family decided to switch to a pellet stove to heat the same area, it would emit around 1.6kg of PM10, which equals the same amount emitted by 10 cars passing 20km a day. If the family decided to replace its vehicle with a new one running on EURO 5 or EURO 6 standard (0.005g/km) then, during the heating season, it would emit 0.018kg of PM”, is concluded in the study.

Igor K. Ilievski

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