“Energy Bus” Helping Rural Communities Find Energy Solutions

2 March 2005

A partnership which includes the Government of Azerbaijan, BP, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Eurasia Foundation is launching ---the Energy Bus – a project they have been developing for some time to help rural communities identify alternative energy solutions. 

The Energy Bus is a mobile exhibition on energy conservation and renewable energy generation. It is designed to provide broad knowledge about internationally practiced alternative energy resources and help the communities identify cost-effective and long-term energy solutions. It is anticipated that the project will help raise the communities’ awareness of existing means of easy access to low cost renewable energy generation such as simple solar panels, water heaters, wind power generators, mini hydro plants, sawdust heaters, biogas units to generate cooking gas, and advice on insulation of houses and energy efficiency. 
The project, which is funded by BP, the OSCE, the IFC and the Eurasia Foundation, will be led by the Government of Azerbaijan as part of its drive to bring energy to the rural communities. 

It is planned that the Bus with a mobile team of instructors, will visit some 100 -150 villages a year traveling through most regions of Azerbaijan. This year the project plans to send the Energy Bus to some 12 districts and towns including Ganja. 

The total cost of the project is about 450,000 $, of which one third is financed by BP, and the remainder is provided by the other partners. The project is currently planned to last for two years with a possibility of extension in the future. 

The project will be managed by the local non-governmental organization Umid. 
Clare Bebbington, BP’s Communication & External Affairs Director, says: “As one of the biggest operators of regional energy projects, BP decided to be involved in the Energy Bus because we saw it as an opportunity to help people get access to low cost diversified energy resources. This will raise awareness of potential means of saving energy within communities and also support the Azerbaijan government in its poverty reduction efforts. The project will, where possible, use locally available low cost materials and encourage local companies to create new manufacturing businesses to provide energy saving equipment..” 
"The OSCE is delighted to be associated with this exciting and innovative venture which addresses core needs of the population - efficient energy usage, diversification of the economy and a quality of life within the reach of all." - Ambassador Maurizio Pavesi, OSCE Office in Baku

"IFC is pleased to be involved in this project as part of our larger effort to ensure that local communities and businesses derive real, long-term, and sustainable benefits from our investment in the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Project," said Shahbaz Mavaddat, Associate Director of IFC's Southern Europe and Central Asia Department. "This project highlights the need to find solutions which will improve the population's access to energy in Azerbaijan." 
The Eurasia Foundation is particularly interested in a long-term impact of this project as it has potential to help communities utilize their existing resources and improve their economic situation. We are also hoping to see some entrepreneurship activities that would become possible as a result of this project.” – Jamal Shahverdiyev, Country Director, the Eurasia Foundation/Azerbaijan. 

For further information please contact:
Tamam Bayatly, BP Baku Press office, telephone:      994 (0) 12 599 4557