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The World Bank has signed a deal to fund the new Sustainable Energy Scale-Up Project, an initiative designed to improve energy efficiency in Belarus.

The $99.3 million in World Bank funding will be coupled with $99.3 million from the European Investment Bank and $3.65 million from the Global Environmental Facility to implement energy efficiency retrofits.

The $202.25 million project will focus on helping Belarus to switch heating plants from gas to woodchips, renovating the heating systems of multi-apartment buildings and by providing technical assistance to the national thermal renovation programme.

The project will kickstart with reducing natural gas consumption by replacing gas boilers with biomass boilers, providing wood-chipping equipment and biomass fuel storage facilities and upgrading district heating networks.

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The second stage of the programme will target the thermal renovation of multi-apartment buildings in Grodno and Mogilev.

The programme will start in 2010 and end in 2025 and is expected to reduce energy bills by 40% in some 250 multi-apartment residential buildings.

Alex Kremer, World Bank manager for Belarus, said: “Many Belarusians would be keen to improve the insulation and heating controls in their apartments, but the cost is an issue in most cases. We hope that the grants and long-term credits provided under this project will encourage households to invest in thermal renovation, so they can have more comfortable living conditions, lower heat consumption and an increase in the value of their apartments.”