Association Solar Academy Bulgaria: Administrative obstacles stop the construction of photovoltaic plants

Energy / Bulgaria
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Veselin Todorov, Chairman of "Solar Academy Bulgaria Association"

Many administrative obstacles stop investors who want to build photovoltaic plants, warns the Solar Academy Bulgaria Association. The organization is increasingly contacted by both business representatives and individuals who encounter difficulties in the construction of this type of project.

The energy crisis has pushed consumers to significantly cheaper renewable energy, and more specifically to solar power plants. Various financial institutions provide the opportunity to finance such type of projects, but one main problem remains - a functioning parliament is needed to pass laws and ease the regime in order to speed up the process of energy transformation.

"In this situation, we cannot talk about taking measures and preventing the risk - this should have happened a long time ago. Urgent and anti-crisis measures are needed today to reduce the negative impact of high energy prices. The construction of photovoltaic plants is among the most accessible, ecological and budget solutions, and Bulgaria is a country with a favorable climate and geographical location. However, our country cannot take advantage of the full potential of photovoltaic plants - changes in the laws and unification of the processes are necessary," commented engineer Veselin Todorov - chairman of the Association "Solar Academy Bulgaria".

The Association "Solar Academy Bulgaria" is increasingly being contacted by investors who are looking for information and more specifics about what they need to do in order to build a photovoltaic plant. The problem is that the processes are not uniform and each project depends on the interpretation of the Spatial Planning Act and the decision of the individual municipalities or their architects. This leads to termination, unnecessary delay and increased cost of projects.

"An example from the practice of an irrelevant requirement for the construction of this type of object is the requirement to assess the need to carry out an environmental impact assessment, although one has already been done for the building, and the photovoltaic panels meet all environmental standards. This is completely irrelevant, and here it is also worth emphasizing that the procedure takes in some cases more than a month, during which the business suffers direct losses from high electricity prices.

There are also frequent cases in which regional architects do not give permission until the permanent use of the property is changed. This necessitates going through the long and cumbersome procedure for a detailed development plan (DDP) to be able to produce energy from photovoltaics, even though the sites have an established infrastructure. This type of case returns the investor to square one. We were recently contacted by an investor who wants to put photovoltaic panels on the roof of his business building, and his municipality requires the issuance of a building permit, coordination of the project with the Civil Aviation Administration, provided that the photovoltaic panel does not change the height in any way on the building. Unfortunately, there are still many different cases related to the issuance of building permits. Therefore, it is there that a real notification regime should be introduced, as it is in the countries of Western Europe", commented Eng. Veselin Todorov.

What slows down the processes and prevents the construction of plants is the request for a construction permit from the municipalities. According to experts, it is key to make changes to the Law on Territorial Planning, which will significantly ease the administrative burden for users. According to them, it is extremely urgent to have clear and strict rules for the construction and commissioning of photovoltaic plants and parks, thus stopping the vicious practice of the chief architects of the municipalities interpreting the laws in a subjective way. A real notification regime should be introduced, removing the permit regime currently imposed by the Planning Act.

It is also necessary to create a better organization in the municipalities - currently the most frequent complaints from investors are that they do not have access to information, as well as that opinions and documents are delayed too long. A common problem is that the projects are not accepted and are returned to the investors, but there is no clear reason given for the gaps and errors found in them.

Association "Solar Academy Bulgaria" was founded at the end of 2021 as a response to the need for more awareness, building a sustainable strategy for the development of the energy sector in Bulgaria and helping education meet the new needs of the labor market.

The purpose of the Association is to work in the direction of creating better opportunities for investors and users, reducing the administrative burdens, assisting the state in building a sustainable strategy for the development of the energy sector, training qualified personnel and creating uniform standards related to the companies executing various projects.

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