100 municipalities supported the acceleration of energy efficiency programs

The national conference "Sustainable financing of projects for energy efficiency and RES" focused on the risk for the implementation of the PES

Energy / Bulgaria
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Source: Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect

On September 26 and 27, the sixth edition of the National Conference "Sustainable Financing of Energy Efficiency and RES Projects" was held in a hybrid format. The organizers of the forum are the Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect, engaged in municipal energy planning in our country, the Municipal Network for Energy Efficiency EcoEnergy and the Municipality of Gabrovo. The two-day event was attended by representatives of state and municipal authorities, banking institutions, as well as experts and representatives of the non-governmental sector.

Held on the eve of the parliamentary elections and in an environment of a growing energy crisis, the conference offered a space for coordinating the actions of national and local authorities in order to speed up the actual implementation of energy efficiency projects for the benefit of local businesses and citizens. The second day of the event offered examples of smart energy efficiency financing in Greece and the Czech Republic.

"Energy efficiency should be at the top of the political and public agenda today," pointed out Dragomir Tsanev, executive director of EnEfect. "The delay and uncertainty surrounding the expected reforms, on which the financing of sustainable energy projects depends, puts the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan at risk and hinders the accelerated implementation of local sustainable energy projects with the potential to limit the negative consequences of the crisis," he added.

The forum reported that nearly 100 municipalities have already signed the declaration in support of the accelerated practical application of energy efficiency policies. The proposals in the declaration include the preparation of legislative changes and planning documents that will help to release the financial resources under the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability and the European Structural and Investment Funds; the preparation of application rules even before the release of funding; provision of financial mechanisms through which municipalities and local businesses can gain access to credit under preferential conditions; technical assistance for administration, professional management and project control; large-scale communication campaign; achieving real results in the reform for financial decentralization of municipalities, so that they can implement their own sustainable energy policy.

The question is whether we successfully utilize the funding from Europe, commented the participants and pointed out as a problem the fact that the projects follow the rhythm of "start" and "stop", which makes sustainable financing difficult. It, in turn, is particularly important for building and maintaining teams of specialists for the energy optimization of the building stock.

"Reforms in the sector require regulatory changes, i.e. working National Assembly", commented Ivaylo Alexiev, Executive Director of the Agency for Sustainable Energy Development. "Municipal projects for energy efficiency should have, perhaps not 100%, but a higher grant rate, so as not to burden the already thin municipal budgets. On the other hand, for households, the share of grants should be reduced and self-participation should be increased," he added.

A key report on the first day of the forum was delivered by Magdalena Dimitrova, state expert in the "Programming" department of the Main Directorate "Operational Environment Program" in the Ministry of Environment and Water. She outlined the investment priorities and deadlines for the implementation of the environmental program in the main directions: water, waste, biological diversity, risk and climate change and air and indicated their relationship with the energy efficiency projects of the building stock. In her presentation, she also highlighted the key reforms in the sector: creation of a National Fund for decarbonisation; facilitating and increasing investments in energy efficiency of multi-family buildings; development of definition and criteria for household energy poverty; creation of financing mechanisms for energy efficiency and RES projects; one stop service.

On the subject of the expectations and investment needs of local authorities, Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo Municipality and Chairman of OMEE EcoEnergy, shared:

"The time has come to look for more complex solutions to achieve our goals. Thus, various initiatives to implement the green changes that are expected of us can be complemented. The main goal is now to improve the microclimate in the building, as well as the building management for the most efficient use of the public resource." She called for more experimentation and "piloting" to create and implement models for the different categories of municipalities.

In parallel discussions the conference discussed the topics of financial institutions as key factors for the implementation of national support programs, the role of municipal systems for energy management and standards for attracting market financing, as well as the tasks before national and local authorities to ensure the possibility of effective implementation of sustainable energy projects. On the second day of the forum, Jiri Karasek, director of research activities at the renowned energy think tank SEVEn in Prague, presented his experience in the practical application of ESCO schemes in public buildings. The legal framework and financing of energy cooperatives in Greece was the topic of the report by Alice Korovesi, Executive Director of INZEB (Athens).

At the closing of the "Sustainable Financing of Energy Efficiency and RES Projects" conference, Dragomir Tsanev pointed out: "Now we can say that the reform related to the National Decarbonization Fund has been placed on a more stable basis. Especially for the private (residential) sector, it is the most important tool for accelerating energy efficiency." In turn, Marko Markov, senior financial expert in energy efficiency and renewable energy at ECONOLER, commented: "Financial institutions do not wait for the state, but act, and this strengthens competition and increases the quality of services. The market without the intervention of the state is going in the right direction."

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