The XXV Annual Conference of EcoEnergy was held in Sofia

On February 28th the XXV annual conference of EcoEnergy was held in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The conference focused on building local capacity to implement the energy transition. There were in-depth discussions on a number of topics such as:
Programs under the Recovery and Development Plan related to buildings and in particular - financial support programs, renovation of public buildings, multi-family apartment buildings.

Here, special attention was paid to the role and quality of energy audits and technical passports as a guarantee for successful project implementation. Emphasis was put on the overlapping of the two phases (100% financing until 31 May and 80% thereafter until 31 December) of the procedure for the renovation of buildings that are positioned next to each other and this may cause inconsistencies during the evaluation phase of the proposals. The lack of a market-oriented approach and flexible sources of funding for applicants that will use co-financing, and in general for those that will not be approved under the residential renovation procedure, was highlighted as a drawback by a large number of participants. Tsveta Nanyova (BACC) pointed out to this aspect that with the increase of ambitions under the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan, which is to be updated in 2023, the increase of resources under the housing renovation programmes is also possible. 

In the minutes for discussion on the topic, the focus was on the support that local authorities provide to citizens under the programme. They have the difficult task of motivating, persuading and assisting households to be active, as well as organising the overall process of preparing the procedure and selecting the contractor for the renovation projects.

Together they are the guarantor of the quality performance and the achievement of real energy savings of this large-scale national programme. In this respect, the importance of energy management systems was underlines as the most appropriate tool for reporting progress by local administrations. It became clear that new National Trust EcoFund funding lines are planned to be introduced very soon, which will require the use of the energy monitoring system developed by EcoEnergy under the MEMS project two years ago to demonstrate and track energy savings during the operation of the projects financed by the Fund. The system has been actively used by the Energy Management Fund in a number of schools and kindergartens across the country since its inception. 

Small-scale renewable energy installations foreseen under the Recovery and Resilience Plan 

In the panel discussion (with the participation of Balin Balinov, Greenpeace Bulgaria, Stanislav Andreev, EnEffect Consult, Anton Ivanov, Bulgarian Energy and Mining Forum) a particular emphasis was given to the role of local authorities in the implementation of renewable energy projects for households' own needs. The role of quality implementation of these projects was solidly emphasized, as the responsibility lies with the contracting entity, i.e. the household that implements it. Thus, the issue of the quality, role and capacity of municipal administrations and their employees as key mediators, advisors and supporters of citizens in the implementation of such projects was raised once again.

Concrete examples from the municipality of Gabrovo and training opportunities in relation to the implementation of green public procurement

During the presentation of Todor Popov (Municipality of Gabrovo) the topic of public procurement, especially green public procurement, was presented in a new, more relevant light. A number of examples were shared about the activities of the municipal administration related to the process of preparing such procedures, the role of citizens, and to conclude, good examples were given from a spontaneous meeting with children from one of the local schools and their interpretation of the importance of these procedures for the environment. 

Concept and shared experience from the establishment and management of one-stop-shops in the field of sustainable energy with a concrete example from the municipality of Burgas
Ivaylo Trendafilov (Burgas Municipality) presented an update on the municipal energy office that has been functioning since December. He said that the interest in its services is growing significantly. Citizens, besides being interested in applying for the current program for renovation of multi-family buildings, have a strong interest in renewable energy projects and financing of projects by attracting funds through various sources of financing. 

Official award ceremony

Following the presentations, an official award ceremony was held for the winners of the EcoEnergy 2022 Sustainable Energy and Climate Competition: 

Two First Place Awards:
- Municipality of Pavlikeni
- Municipality of Gabrovo 

Two second place awards:
- Municipality of Burgas 
- Smyadovo Municipality 

Two incentives: 
- Municipality of Dobrich 
- Krushari Municipality 

At the end of the day, the General Assembly of EcoEnergy was held and new members were officially accepted - Troyan Municipality and Smolyan Regional Administration were accepted.