The role of energy efficiency is underestimated as a factor for better energy balance and a clean transition

The financial sector puts green development as top priority.

On October 5, the 10th national roundtable on financing sustainable energy investments series took place at the BIA SKY Office Building in Sofia titled "Beyond the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan: strategic vision and practical dimensions at the local level." The organisers of the one-day event were the Bulgarian Industrial Association, the Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect and the Municipal Energy Efficiency Network EcoEnergy.

"The concept of today's event is to see what is the vision for the development of horizontal energy efficiency policies, and then to find their sectoral implications and get to the individual instruments," explained Dragomir Tzanev, Executive Director of CEE EnEffect.

The event was attended by Julian Popov, Minister of Environment and Water; Angelina Boneva, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works; Ivaylo Alexiev, Executive Director of the Agency for Sustainable Energy Development; Dobri Mitrev, Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Industrial Association and others.

Asked about the state of administrative capacity to implement the clean transition reforms, Minister Julian Popov said that the problem is not so much the capacity in general, rather the political will and determination and the adherence to political direction. “When we all work together and in the same direction, then this administrative capacity can give very good results especially if it works together with the business and with the support of the business." With regard to the process of renovation of housing in the country, he commented that public funds should cover 20-25% of the total cost of energy renovation of buildings, with some owners being able to renovate their buildings entirely with their own financing, and others being supported under the energy poverty - once the whole energy system was

Deputy Minister Angelina Boneva touched upon the development of the building renovation programmes, saying that not a single application has yet been submitted in the second stage of the programme for renovation of multi-family residential buildings, which requires 20% co-financing by owners. To overcome this problem, the MRDPW is working on two options to ensure owners' participation - with the application of an ESCO contract with the participation of the municipalities and with a guarantee scheme for loans from commercial banks developed by the public financial institutions - the Fund of Funds and the BDB. Work is also underway on the One-Stop-Shop reform, and currently municipal energy centers will be open to citizens' questions and will cooperate with private organisations interested in participating in the process.

Key to the discussions was the session with the participation of the Fund of Funds and the BBB, which confirmed the availability of blended financing instruments for energy efficiency projects, including a grant component and preferential loans for investors. The new guarantee scheme of the BBB related to the implementation of the NRRP programme for individual PV installations was also presented. The two commercial banks that participated in the discussion, UBB and FIB, confirmed their interest in this type of schemes, while presenting numerous specialised products and confirming that green development is the number one priority for the banking sector - both due to the requirements of the taxonomy regulation and increased market demand.

During the national roundtable, representatives of local authorities, industry organisations, financial institutions, associations and associations in the field of sustainable energy joined the discussion by presenting concrete tools and solutions supporting the implementation of public policies. The role of Bulgarian business as a driver of climate and energy policy implementation and as a key partner of local authorities was also highlighted, but, according to Dobri Mitrev, there is still a need to remove administrative barriers, and the need for skilled professionals and workers, without whom a real energy transition is unthinkable, is becoming increasingly serious.