6 billion Funds for "green" projects in Bulgaria are provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) - the climate bank of the EC, and the financial institution is ready to increase its support. This was stated by EIB Vice President Liliana Pavlova, opening the Green Urban Infrastructure Summit Bulgaria 2023 forum, which brought together in Sofia experts from various sectors of state and international institutions, business and the scientific community for a discussion on the opportunities for investments in green infrastructure, innovations in construction, the desired industrial symbiosis, challenges and a sustainable future.
Half of the last 10 projects from Central and Eastern European countries that were approved by the Innovation Fund are from Bulgaria, and this is very encouraging, Liliana Pavlova pointed out.
She noted that joint efforts are needed in order to have good projects that will be implemented in the appropriate terms and with the appropriate capacity and announced the EIB's built platform for online verification of projects whether they meet the requirements for financing according to the green project and sustainability criteria.
Chances and Obstacles
The European investment funds give access to 370 billion euros to the member states, 170 billion euros of them - for a green transition, including for the urban environment, pointed out MEP Andrey Novakov and emphasized the low absorption rate. According to him, in Bulgaria it is already a matter of minimizing damages from missed benefits. He defined the missed utilization of funds in the last 2 years as a risk hanging with exceptional force in relation to Bulgaria. "This is an inertial process, and when you slow down today, in 5 years you will have a double delay, because you have new commitments that you have to undertake," explained the MEP.
"The plan for a just transition, which was supposed to be ready in September 2021, is not yet," he pointed out, adding that he would not want to be in the position of the one who would have to go to the miners in Pernik or Stara Zagora to explained to them that we could not take the money that was allocated for them.
"At the moment, access to European funding gives us a chance to use more money than we are ready to use or ideas of what to do with it," Novakov also said and called on the government to immediately start working with the municipalities. "They have a desperate need for a conversation - to know what to prepare for, how to apply, including for the PVU, for which as of last week the absorption was 0.88%," the MEP emphasized and shared: "I suffered a lot of criticism because some time ago I said, that the digestibility was 1% and they blamed me for being wrong. I really wasn't right. It's not 1%, it's 0.88%."
The MEP assured that work is being done at the European level to ease the procedures and expressed hope that this time it will have an effect. "A high-level group has been assembled and is currently working on the simplification, and this time is more promising." The last time there was such a group working on simplification, it ended up with about 340 pages of recommendations on how to simplify procedures. I sincerely hope that will not happen this time,” he said.
Green - horizontal target
Green investments should also be a horizontal goal and have a green component in every project, Deputy Minister of Regional Development Angelina Boneva told the forum participants.
She emphasized the combination of functionality with aesthetics and noted that in the search for sustainability we have a lot to learn from nature: "What better illustration than ecosystems and the cycle."
If there is a green component in every project, we should look for the green focus as an additional horizontal priority in new investments, stressed Deputy Minister Boneva.
She presented what MRRD is doing in the field of green transport, the energy efficiency of the building stock, including under PVA, green mobility under PVA and the possibilities under the various programs.
"Count on about 5 billion euros for eco-investments, which MRRD manages in terms of green infrastructure, with an emphasis on urban infrastructure, of course," concluded the deputy minister.
Industrial symbiosis in action
Construction is responsible for 39% of carbon emissions, and these are not only related to transport, but also to the production of building materials. The most used material in the world is concrete, and the main component in it is cement, which is one of the major pollutants, noted Dr. Eng. Emanuela Manolova, Head of Sales and Business Development Iron Silicates, Aurubis Bulgaria - the largest producer of copper in Europe, the second largest in the world and the world's largest producer of copper from recycled materials.
Speaking about zero waste, reducing the carbon footprint, symbiosis between industries, at the expense of the big polluter - construction, she emphasized that the raw materials of the future are already manufactured materials. The main part of the waste in the world, of course also in Bulgaria, is the secondary products of large industries and they must be certified and utilized, they also serve as an alternative fuel in the production of cement, for example, and reduce costs, respectively the economic effect is indisputable, she pointed out.
Emmanuela Manolova reported that Aurubis Bulgaria received another great recognition for their main secondary product - iron silicate. Since the end of last year, this product has been a certified construction material for use in concrete mortars with a CE mark, is used in all cement plants in the country and is used in every newly constructed building. "This is the first forum where we announce publicly - since last month we managed to get the highest standard - the so-called European technical approval of the material for application in green cements, which means that automatically the material can replace the use of cement and reduce up to 20% of carbon emissions," she shared.
The iron silicate material added to any building material - concrete, ceramics, cement or asphalt - significantly reduces the carbon footprint. It is also certified for asphalt in Europe, but in Bulgaria there are still additional tests.
Iron silicate was embedded in special flooring during the construction of the home in Varna for children with special needs "Karin Dom" and in the foundations of the new research center of the Bulgarian Antarctic base.