Whenever somebody asks me about the energy sector in Romania, I tell them we seem to be stuck in a past century mentality. Discussions hover around mammoth companies and megalomaniac pipeline infrastructure investments. We also tend to have a very hardcore geopolitical approach to energy. All Romanians are good at talking about the Russians, right?

By Corina Murafa

Romania has always had abundant and diverse energy resources so, in reality, we had little incentives to nurture a culture of innovation in this sector. Last but not least, in the Brussels debate our various governments have placed themselves on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum. We pretend not to be climate change deniers, but we like to keep our coal industry unspoiled, if possible. Like having the cake and eating it, in a way.

When we opened Ashoka Romania I felt more determined than ever to bring about a dramatic shift in the public discourse and practice in Romania towards climate innovation for the future. Ashoka is the largest global network which offers social entrepreneurs a lifetime of community and support. We identify and support the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, learn from the patterns in their innovations, and mobilize a global community to embrace these new frameworks and build an “everyone is a changemaker” world. When we opened an office in Romania, in May 2017, we embarked on the journey of finding the country’s social innovators in the energy and environment field.

While the ecosystem is not at all conducive to such a mindset shift, as mentioned earlier, we did find some exemplary cases. Claudiu Butacu and Mihai Pasti are the founders of Efden, a student organization which has built, assembled and successfully tested in Romania solar houses which won famous global competitions, like Solar Decathlon. They are very well placed to scale their innovation commercially, while still educating their peers into a sustainability mindset. Iulian Angheluță is the founder of “Lumină pentru România” (Light for Romania) a highly developed crowdfunding process that helps the poorest and most isolated Romanian communities to have electricity access from solar panels. Iulian managed to bring light to Romania’s last non-electrified schools, yet there are several thousand homes that still don’t have access to this basic form of modern energy.

Iuliean Horneț is a Romanian inventor and entrepreneur, who produces pellet-fired heat generation equipment. His devices make heating much more affordable, while burning biomass highly efficiently. Dragoș Preda is an engineer who invented and marketed the first small-scale vertical wind turbine for households, 100% made in Romania.

Andrei Voicu and Rareș Dumitrache have created Swip – the first Romanian platform and app which aggregates the demand of several energy consumers and, through bargaining at scale, negotiates better deals with electricity suppliers. Enevo Group is an energy engineering and automation company founded by two Romanians, Cristian Pîrvulescu and Radu Brașoveanu who gave up their comfortable corporate jobs to create a business which offers solutions along the entire energy value chain, from SCADA solutions to energy management. Their start-up now has offices in Melbourne, Bucharest and Saudi Arabia and serves some of the largest global players.

Romania is pretty advanced in reaching its EU-set renewable energy targets, largely due to hydro investments from the communist age. We’ve missed implementing a transparent and fair support system for renewable energy and instead authorities are refusing to give up on coal, despite economic and environmental arguments to the contrary. I am hopeful nonetheless that an ever increasing number of social entrepreneurs will emerge and thrive despite the hardship of being a climate innovator in Romania.

 

The new EFdeN Signature solar house is ready for the international decade Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, Dubai 

The EFdeN team, with the involvement of more than 200 students, announces the completion of the new EFdeN Signature solar house. The opening of the house that will represent Romania at the international decade Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, Dubai, in November, took place last week.


With a modern, energy efficient, intelligent and automated design, the house is designed and built by an interdisciplinary team formed mostly by students, being the result of one and a half years of work.

The user of the EFdeN Signature House will be able to control lighting, temperature, door opening system and part of the home appliance through an application, including when it is left home With a footprint of 147 sqm, the EFdeN Signature home is innovative with the proposed solutions to today’s house problems. The house is special by embracing the house-to-house concept. Thus, the most obvious element of the house is the outer structure, a “shell” that shades a relaxing space in the open, while providing optimum luminosity in the house. Also, EFdeN Signature is an intelligent house, electrical and mechanical systems being controlled by an automation solution developed by EFdeN volunteers together with project partners.

 

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