Environmental issues are taking centre stage in a major funding initiative being launched by the European Economic Area (EEA). A series of financial mechanisms have been set up to help integrate the new European Union member states and Norway, the group's leading donor, is providing F1.13 billion for the effort through 2009. These funds create a significant opportunity for Norwegian environmental technology firms to gain market share in Eastern Europe, since environmental protection and sustainable development are listed as top priority spending areas.
Of the new EEA member states, Poland stands to be the major beneficiary, receiving some 50% of the allocations. The rest will be divided among Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. While Norwegian firms are not given preference in seeking EEA contracts, it's clear that the nation's long experience and high standards in environmental technology will make Norwegian companies attractive partners for foreign-based projects. Some of the sector's leading actors are already well-established in the region, particularly in Poland, and can build on their history of successful cooperative projects to create stronger positions there.
Bilateral Research to Expand with Poland
The new EEA funds are already providing stimulus for Norway and Poland to work cooperatively on issues such as biodiversity, air quality, climate change, marine environment, and energy use. An agreement on undertaking joint research in these areas was signed following the Polish-Norwegian Competence Forum, held in conjunction with the visit of Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon to Poland at the end of May 2005.
Environmental technology firm Biovac is delivering small-scale wastewater treatment plants like this one in Poland to a growing market in the new EU member states.
Associations Increasing Eastern European Focus
Two of Norway's leading environmental business organizations, GreenPartner and Entech, have agreed to work cooperatively to foster development for their member companies in the emerging Eastern European marketplace. GreenPartner describes its efforts in the new EEA/EU states as being in the initial phase, but the organization cites an increasing focus on this region, particularly in Poland. The group is positive about the "interesting synergies" that can be created by working in close cooperation with fellow interest group Entech, which is currently exploring possibilities in Hungary.
Given the small domestic market for environmental technology firms in Norway, working together to compete internationally is a key to success in the export market. "In Europe, the environment is one of big business. Norwegian environmental technology firms acting alone don't have the power and capital to compete in many instances, but we have better opportunities when we work together," said Ragnar Eriksen of Entech in a recent interview with the Norwegian business magazine Økonomisk Rapport (Economic Report).
Biovac: Baltic Markets for Small-Scale Wastewater Treatment
GreenPartner member company Biovac provides expertise in biological and biochemical wastewater treatment plants, and is finding an increasing niche in the growing Eastern European marketplace. To date, Biovac has delivered more than 4,000 mini wastewater treatment plants in Norway alone, and more than 500 in other countries.
The company is marketing its patented technology in Eastern Europe through Polish subsidiary Biovac Polen. The firm's high-grade active sludge plants with chemical sedimentation show promise in the EU/EEA marketplace due to their flexibility, high operational security and particularly low operational costs. The company points to results data that show the plants are able to achieve optimal removal levels of organic materials, phosphorus and nitrogen.
Geomor & NIVA Team Up
More evidence of the growing links between the Norwegian and Polish environmental sectors is the recent cooperation between Geomor and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA). Geomor, a Polish consulting firm active since 1987, has joined NIVA to offer services in water resource management, coastal marine issues, flood control, and hydrological and environmental modelling. Recent projects for the joint effort have included real-time flood decision support systems, and studies on the Vistula Lagoon and Odra Channel.
|© Harsha Ratnaweera/NIVA
Dr Andrzej Lewandowski of Geomor-NIVA is shown here giving a presentation which lays out some of Poland's environmental challenges.
NILU Active on the Ground & in the Air in Poland
Another of Norway's leading research institutes, the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), has taken on an important role in Polish environmental efforts. In 2001, the institute established NILU Polska Ltd in Katowice to assist the transfer of clean industrial technologies, offer consulting services, and provide support of the public sector with project proposals, business plans and joint research projects.
Priorities in the coming years for NILU in Poland include the implementation of renewable energy sources in the country, such as the production and use of biogas, and the safe disposal of agricultural wastes. In addition, the institute is working on the application of its air quality management system (AirQUIS), and is helping to bolster Poland's water and coastal zone management.
Cambi Delivers Sludge Treatment & Biogas Plant
Cambi, another active Norwegian player in the Polish market, has delivered a plant in Bydgoszcz designed to handle municipal, mixed primary and secondary sludge, and has a capacity of 7,650 tonnes of dry sludge per year. Biogas utilization at the plant will be CHP, electricity, process/plant and distributed heating, and biosolids utilization will be dewatered cake, which is useful for agriculture and recultivation.
Sustainable Energy from Energos
Focusing on sustainable energy, gasification technology and small-scale energy from waste plants, Energos cites a growing interest in the Eastern European market as the reason for establishing subsidiary ENER-G Polska in September 2002. Today, the new company is a leading developer and operator of landfill gas power generation and a supplier of renewable energy in the Baltic nation.
ENER-G Polska cites its ability to design and build its own generators and control systems as giving the company a competitive edge in terms of cost and quality controls. The extraction of biogas from landfills for energy recovery or reduced emissions has been the company's primary contribution thus far in helping optimize Poland's waste management activities.