Bulgaria needs a permanent programme for renovation of residential buildings

Amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act create a National Decarbonisation Fund to finance renovation programmes

The XII National Round Table on Financing Sustainable Energy Projects was held in Sofia yesterday, 30 January, on the topic "Energy efficiency of the building stock: the basis for a sustainable energy transition". The event was organized by the Ministry of Energy and the Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect with the support of the "Let's Renew Bulgaria" initiative. 

Special guests at the round table were Minister of Environment and Water Julian Popov, Deputy Ministers of Energy and Regional Development and Public Works Iva Petrova and Angelina Boneva, Radoslav Rybarski, Member of the Parliamentary Energy Committee, and others. The forum was opened by Dragomir Tzanev, Executive Director of EnEffect, and from the very beginning of the talks the emphasis was put on the role of the National Decarbonisation Fund in the implementation of building renovation policies.

"We have two immediate goals - to do everything possible to make the second stage of the renovation program with 20% self-participation a success and as soon as possible to launch a permanent program that will enable businesses and citizens to get involved in the process without waiting for years for another gift from the government," said Dragomir Tzanev. "Without attractive loans to be paid back from energy savings, we cannot expect people to accept the changes," he summarized. 

The roundtable provided an opportunity for open dialogue and exchange of ideas between government, business and the public, providing a platform for constructive formulation of the country's future energy policy. 

"The Ministry of Environment and Water is the institution that takes over the coordination of decarbonisation policies. Investments in building renovation are at the forefront of these, and the lack of them leads not only to failure to meet targets, but also to social and demographic problems that will become increasingly worse," Minister Julian Popov added. "The solution, apart from finding ways to attract private investment in a huge market of tens of billions of euros, is to invest sufficient resources in knowledge generation and innovation penetration."

"The National Decarbonisation Fund is enshrined in the Long-Term Renewal Strategy and is a reform of the Recovery and Sustainability Plan that needs to be implemented," said Deputy Energy Minister Iva Petrova. "Investment needs in the housing sector are estimated at between €3.3 and €4.5 billion per year, and this fund should help mobilise them through a combination of financial instruments, grants and technical assistance," she said. 

During the event, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Angelina Boneva emphasised the need to prioritise building renovation in the Decarbonisation Fund's activities, stressing the importance of making policy decisions based on the investment needs of different sectors. 

"We cannot achieve real results with 100 percent grant funding, a shift to co-financing schemes is inevitable," said Deputy Minister Boneva. "We need to find balanced solutions between grant and financial instrument and find solutions that combine renewal measures with policies on renewable energy, smart buildings, energy communities," she added.

The participation of the financial sector was also very active, as representatives of the Association of Banks in Bulgaria, the Fund of Funds and the FLAG Fund expressed their readiness to participate in future renovation programmes. It was stated that ensuring consistency and continuity of policies and attractive conditions for all participants in the process is essential to attract private investment. Ensuring project quality and demonstrating tangible results is also necessary to ensure the participation of the banking sector. In direct relation to this, a clear need has been identified to invest in knowledge and skills in the construction sector, which must be ready to ensure the quality of every project in current and future programmes to meet citizens' expectations.

The presentations are available here.