The Expert Mission was delivered from the 12th to 14th February 2020 with the Energy Agency of Plovdiv (http://www.eap-save.eu) – EAP. EAP has been established since 2000 as the first SAVE agency in Bulgaria and it is the most experienced and the largest energy agency in Bulgaria. The EAP is promoting efficient and sustainable use of energy and renewable energy through cooperation with public administration, businesses community and consumers. It was good to see that the agency can carry out complex feasibility studies and planning documents, energy and environmental analyses and implement energy and air quality projects. More than 50 EU projects were successfully completed so far and the team is a good combination of enthusiastic young staff and experienced seniors. An additional asset is a sophisticated and well-equipped laboratory for solid biomass, biofuels and biowaste. EAP is also a founder of the Association of Bulgarian Energy Agencies (АBEA) and Green Synergy Cluster and a member of several networks (including FEDARENE).
The intensive expert mission (3 days) was delivered by Dr Julije Domac and the main aim was to help EAP to plan, structure and develop large scale sustainable energy investment concepts which may be applicable for ELENA and other TA support mechanisms. The mission was consisted of following activities:
- First day started with a meeting between the expert and EAP team. The meeting focused on EAP activities and project portfolio in order to understand and develop the most suitable development concepts. An interesting part of the meeting was a visit to EAP laboratory which is doing a lot of testing for market players in field of biofuels, compost, bio-degradable wastes. A working session was held at the EAP premises in Plovdiv including a short meeting with Mr Stoyan Dimitrov, the chairman of the Green Synergy Cluster. The topics of discussion on the first day included details of ELENA technical assistance programme, Smart City project concept already developed by EAP and other investment options.
- On the second day, there was a meeting with Ms Dani Kanazireva, Regional Governor of Plovdiv Region where the expert and the EAP team presented importance of CoM initiative and the overall concept of the EU Grean Deal. Ms Kanazireva promised her support to the agency in liaising with cities and municipalities of Plovdiv region. The team presented ELENA and other PDA schemes and had an in-depth discussion on how to finance large scale investment projects. The second part of the day way dedicated to topics of smart-city components and technical details of ELENA funded streetlighting reconstruction project Republeec, currently implemented by the City of Zagreb with participation of Mr Ivan Przulj, REGEA expert through skype call. Another topic discussed was the energy poverty and options for EU cooperation in that field.
- Last day was spent in EAP office in an interactive session with the whole EAP team to wrap-up and make an action plan for further activities. In the morning, the team made a short visit to the Deputy mayor of Plovdiv, Mr Stefan Stoyanov and presented options for ELENA financing.
Some of the most important recommendations given by the vising expert to the host agency:
- The Agency is experienced and well positioned with a lot of support from business community and research/academia. It was obvious that there is a good will from local/regional politicians to continue to use the service of the Agency which is an important prerequisite for any follow-up.
- A promising investment concept which could be further developed by EAP and possible financed by ELENA should be focused on:
- Buildings retrofit in Plovdiv and other cities including Sofia. There is a need to renovate at least 25 school building in Plovdiv and to build some new kindergartens and High-tech innovation centre.
- Streetlighting reconstruction in Plovdiv based on ESCO/EPC investment models which should be further communicated and explained to mayor and other decision makers. This could be a potential market niche where EAP could develop know-how and further capitalise their competence.
- PV plants on public buildings roofs in combination with energy retrofit of public and private buildings. An interesting concept could be to open the PV project for citizens investments and to create one or more green cooperatives.
The Agency team is compact and rich in various expertise, especially in energy planning which is an asset. A very high level of enthusiasm was demonstrated to expand their activities in financing large scale sustainable investments. A very positive fact is that for analysed project concepts there is a variety of financing options (EU structural/cohesion funds, commercial loans from banks, city and national funding, participation of private capital) and that the short-term investment potential is over 50 mil EUR.