Ivan Vekirchyk

Energy transition for a person: new consciousness
Transition from old to new is always stressful. The energy transition is not an exception. Why does the world need to go through this other stress?

People always find it difficult to accept changes. Any changes. After all, they create uncertainty about the future. But… Historically, all the changes that have taken place have led to human evolution, progress and life improvement. It has become a level more comfortable, calmer, better in meeting basic needs. Therefore, transitions are necessary.

The need for an energy transition is caused by a number of new demands. It is essential to provide energy to the constantly growing population on the planet. We have also started to consume much more, and any consumption must be supported by production that requires additional energy. We have faced the fact that traditional means of energy use fossil fuels, which are running out and polluting the Earth's atmosphere. The consequences of this are already noticeable. We see that winters have become less snowy and cold. If nothing changes, then somewhere in the 50-60s half of Ukraine will turn into a desert. Therefore, changes are needed. As we go forward, more corporations, cities, countries realize this and take measures aimed at the energy transition.

We cannot lag behind the world, we want to be equal among equals, we strive to develop. This is probably one of the most influential reasons for Ukraine's fluctuation. But accepting these changes is difficult for a person, because for changes you always have to pay more than for a settled life. People need to be willing to pay more to get a better future. But this future will come in 20, 30, 40 years. Are we willing to pay more now? I am not certain.

The coronavirus situation is very illustrative. In many countries, masks are worn not only because of the coronavirus: but just a person, feeling unwell, immediately puts on a mask so as not to endanger those around them. Unfortunately, we do not have this culture. A year has passed, and only now people are beginning to understand and think a little. And before that, everyone was «anti-masker», «anti-defender» ... People did not take this problem seriously until someone died nearby.

Many people are also dying because of climate change and the environmental situation. When this becomes obvious like the coronavirus consequences, we will be moving towards an energy transition much faster.

How was your personal «energy transition» going on? Where does this process begin in the human mind?

I am probably one of the few exceptions, because I accept change very easily. I am fond of everything new. I always think a few years ahead. So I see what is happening, analyze and conceive the ways to go to improve the situation.

Actually, I did not have a transition - there was awareness. There is a present state, and there is a future. Which way to go towards it? For me, it is obvious, and this is renewable energy.

Current prices for household power plants are already beyond economic feasibility. It is now more profitable for a private house not to be powered by the general network, but to install a solar station and batteries. And this is a direct path to the energy transition.

How does it usually happen? One person installed it, got that it is economical, neighbors around saw that a person spends less money on energy, then they also installed a solar plant. This is a chain reaction that is already actively working in the world. We are just beginning. But last and this year showed that the number of households installing panels is growing exponentially. Not everyone is doing this to stop climate change, but for economic reasons, in any case they are still improving the common future.

Consciousness is the hardest thing to change. Awareness is important. Television affects 70% of the population. It must demonstrate the current situation and what will happen if we do not start changes, and how to achieve those changes. Unfortunately, on the contrary, it is now broadcast that «green» energy is extremely expensive.

The Prime Minister has recently said that we do not have the most expensive electricity for the population, but the cheapest in the world. Everyone miscalculates, taking into account how much they pay the producer, and no one shows how much the consumer pays for electricity. There is cross-subsidization, the state covertly compensates the population for the energy price. When energy costs as much as it should cost on the market, there will be no questions at all: solar panels and wind turbines for private households will be installed immediately - it will be much more profitable. We see this tendency in Europe and the United States.

Being a person who has gone through a personal «energy transition» - what has changed in your attitude, values?

We consume much more than we require. Because of this, more goods are produced. On the one hand, this is progress, it gives financial capacity to develop. But there is a downside: we spend natural resources on things we do not really need, which then need to be disposed of.

It is very good that now in Ukraine garbage sorting has been launched with further processing. This is a big step forward to reuse the consumed. But you also need to develop the habit of not buying what you do not need.

We should reduce this consumer fever and increase the likelihood of reusing things. These two axioms were a great discovery for me, a transition. Much depends on their understanding. These little simple steps can be done by anyone. Not to buy too much, start sorting garbage… These are simple things that discipline. At the same time, it is better for our own budget, for saving our future. It is very important when a person consciously begins to do so.

Speaking of household habits - what do you do differently now, what has changed in your daily activities?

The easiest is water usage at home. If we look at the developed European countries, everything that a person consumes is worth their money, it is not subsidized. Including water. In France in particular, I know many examples, the family takes turns washing in one bathroom, because water is very expensive. So they spend it less. And less is spent - less is produced. As a result, France has clean rivers, and the water coming from the wells will not run out either. And this approach is almost worldwide.

Another sample is heating. Warming of the apartment so as not to take excess heat from the network, or installing a boiler in a private house or apartment. Again, this is good for the budget - economical, and energy efficient – it reduces consumption.

Sorting garbage, not buying too much, using water reasonably, almost all household items and chemicals in particular, so as not to pollute the water - all this is energy efficiency.

Discipline is required. We need to set a goal: for example, will I be able to sort garbage within a month? Or will I stop doing it in 3-4 days? Yes, you will need to spend an hour searching the Internet to look up how to sort properly. Then you need to understand where to take this sorted garbage. Spend 2 hours at the beginning and hold out for a month. In a month you will not be able to do otherwise. You will look at those who do not as savages. Changes will also take place in consciousness.

If a person lives in a society where everyone is smart, plays chess, reads a lot of books, then as a result he/she will also read books and play chess. Maybe not the best of all, but still will do. Society has a very strong influence on the individual, and we are not getting away from it. Due to this, in fact, humanity survived.

If it is not possible to consume clean energy, what can a person straining after own energy transition do?

If there is possibility – energy independence, if there is not – energy saving. Windows should not let the heat out, walls should be insulated. It is very important to regulate the heating system. Not to have the situation when it is necessary to open a window so that it becomes a little colder. Unfortunately, most people do not control heating, and this is also a problem of consumption. Again, everyone can sort garbage, use water and electricity wisely.

These steps lead to the conservation of all types of energy. I hope that from 2030 the cheapest energy from renewable sources will enter the market, and people will be able to choose which energy to buy. They will buy renewable energy purely from economic calculations even without thinking about the future.

All processes in the world are similar, only the scale differs. The company is a micromodel of society. How is the energy transition among the KNESS employees occurring?

When a person enters our company, what does he/she see first? He/She sees that the company is successful, the company is modern and young. It is pleasant to be here. Then the person looks at what the company is doing, why it achieves this. The thesis «Renewable energy is the future» is imprinted at the subconscious level. The company sorts garbage. If a successful company does it, then it is good.

It is very easy for a newcomer to change and adapt. After all, everyone who sees that each person around them lives in a bright future and moves towards an even better future, will
automatically adopt such an experience
In many respects, it was easier for KNESS to work with the employees' consciousness, because they are all experts in renewable energy. How to start the consciousness development of companies from other sectors?

It all depends on the culture of the company, and it is formed either by the owners or the management. It is worth starting with training, with bringing information to the management, who will then be able to conform all this for the company. Cultural change is very difficult. Many enterprises have been operating since post-Soviet times. But now a new generation that is learning, becoming successful entrepreneurs, is observing what is happening around. Young people take an active part in social life and actively change their lives, the lives of employees and the company in general for the better. We need to comprehend that people are not just a resource. The company is the people, the specialists working there. We actually live with these specialists for 8 hours a day, i.e. everyone spends a third of their lives at work. Why not make this third of life pleasant, modern, with a view to the future? Live it, not work it over.

I know many examples of how companies change. When people are involved in a company's business, they are much more efficient. These are companies speculating not for a year ahead, but at least for 5-10 years. That is, they invest in their development with deferred dividends.

If to scale the energy transition experience on the city and the country - which of it will be appropriate, what technologies and tools will «work» on a larger scale?

It is very good that active decentralization is being conducted. People are getting closer to understanding that the city, district, region is run by the people they have chosen. These people have a budget, and they want to see what it is spent on. People have paid taxes, so they can demand from management: let these taxes be spent on really necessary things. These funds should create something useful for the population. If possible, they should multiply and become more efficient. And to increase funds, in particular, means to spend less. For instance, if we install a solar panel in each kindergarten, as a result, electricity will be cheaper for them. That is, the city will start saving. Solar panels can be installed at all government agencies. Obviously, the initial investment is expensive, but in 5 years they will pay off, and then it will be much cheaper. These steps need to be taken. These are the simplest changes.

Remarkable changes are taking place now in heat conservation, in the insulation of houses. This is also a very important step that relieves the load on central heating systems, hot water supply ...

Well, and the city should be green, people should breathe clean air. This trend is characteristic of almost the whole world. It is very good that Vinnytsia catches up with it.

Small changes can be achieved by small steps, but we constantly need small positive achievements in order to continue to move to the big goal. With such small steps as sorting garbage, saving energy, installing solar panels, we achieve our goals. A person gets pleasure from the fact of moving forward. On the other hand, we have a budget formed from our taxes, which must be used by the government as it should be. It is not easy to eat and constantly live in a budget deficit. It is necessary to develop the economy, to develop modern production, clean, and environmentally friendly. But the country must clearly accept this course and overcome all obstacles standing in the way: first of all, oligarchs with monopolists of the «traditional» generation.

We have an interesting case study from Sweden. We talked to representatives of the Stockholm authorities. They say that political parties compete with each other, but, in fact, for people, a change of leadership does not change anything. Because there are strategic goals. This country should reach this point by 2050. They can go different ways, but they still have to come to it, and God forbid if someone from the leadership tries to go the other way - he/she will be fired immediately. No one even thinks to change direction. It is simple… It is an effective democracy.

Regarding government programs. We need government programs to support people who are moving towards energy-independent development. A good example is the insulation of houses. Somewhere it happens at the expense of the state, somewhere at the expense of the people. During the first years, everyone already sees that both the state and the people will benefit. But it must be felt. So, in order to feel this, the state must motivate people. The effect is impressive. There are also other ways to stimulate. In many countries you may sort waste to throw it away or not. If you throw it away sorted, you pay $ 10 a month, if not, you pay $1,000. There is a choice: it is up to you, no one is forcing it. But for some reason people opt for paying $ 10.

There was a big problem with biological waste in South Korea. Now it is very expensive to throw out products. That is why people try to buy exactly as many products as they consume. Waste, if any, is stored in the freezer. It is thrown away once a week when a car comes, but it is very expensive. So they overcame irresponsible consumption. It works really effectively.

If the energy transition is considered as a philosophical question, wider than kilowatts and joules - what energies within a person should now give way to others?

Positive energies should come to the fore. Unfortunately, the «post-Soviet» mentality has left a lot of negativity. Indeed, difficult times have been experienced. People have too much negativity. I recently read that an Englishman is jealous of a neighbor who drinks very tasty tea, a Frenchman is jealous of a neighbor because he has a better mistress than he does, and only in post-Soviet countries people do something just to spite neighbours.

You need to switch. Not wanting someone to get worse, but wanting everyone to get better. When a person switches to it, when he/she wants to go forward and develop, when the human goes with the positive - the goal is always achieved. There is such a set expression that if on the way to your happiness you are incessantly distracted by trivia, you will not reach. We need to see the positive ahead, go to it. There will be a lot of obstacles, and if the same «neighbors» do evil - try not to react, just throw away these negative emotions, go ahead and get positive.

A striking example is Indonesia, the island of Bali. The locals believe that they live in paradise and are very sympathetic to the people who come to visit them, because they were not lucky enough to be born in paradise. They are very positive about the guests to share a little of their happiness. They even have a ministry, something like a ministry of pleasure. They are positive. Yes, they are not ahead of the whole planet technologically, but they feel very good.