Bulgaria: EU Funds to Boost Energy Efficiency and Solar Thermal Energy

In terms of solar heating and cooling, the Bulgarian government is planning to increase the number of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects not only for residential buildings, but also for small and medium enterprises. Two new incentive programmes have been presented over the last weeks by Lilyana Pavlova, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, and Delyan Dobrev, newly appointed Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism. In contrast to already existing incentive programmes, which are funded mostly by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the new governmental schemes are financed primarily out of Bulgaria’s EU-funded Operational Programmes “Regional Development 2007 – 2013” (OP RD) and “Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy 2007 – 2013” (OP C), which will see a follow-up between 2014 and 2020. 
Bulgarians who want to make their homes or companies more energy efficient or install solar thermal systems on building roofs have so far been able to acquire loans and incentives through two EBRD schemes financing sustainable energy efficiency measures. Private owners could apply for money from the Bulgarian Residential Energy Efficiency Credit Line (REECL) and businesses would receive funds from the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Credit Line (BEERECL). Although both schemes are fairly popular among Bulgarians concerned about the environment, market observers see them as not sufficient enough to fundamentally change the overall bad energy efficiency in the Balkan country. With its newly launched schemes Energy Renovation of Bulgarian Homes (ERBH) and Energy Efficiency and Green Economy Programme (EEGEP), the Bulgarian government now hopes to finally reduce the waste of energy nationally. 

“More than 90 % of the flats and houses in Bulgaria are owned by the people who live in them. Unfortunately, most of this property is in bad shape,” Pavlova said at the presentation of the ERBH programme at the Council of Ministers in Sofia on 12 April 2012. She announced that the OP RD would provide EUR 25 million to make Bulgarian homes more energy-efficient. Between 1 July 2012 and mid-2015, any individual home owner, and associations of flat owners in 36 of the country’s biggest towns, could apply for the money. Applicants can get incentives of up to 50% of the project costs for investing in energy efficiency measures, such as replacing the windows, insulating the front of the house, but also to install solar hot water systems (see table below). 

Bulgarians who do not have the money for the remaining half of the investment can apply for loans at reduced interest rates. The Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) is providing an additional EUR 6.5 million solely for this purpose. Only buildings which were constructed before 26 April 1999 and consist of at least three floors and six apartments are eligible for the ERBH scheme. “With the EUR 31 million, we aim to retrofit up to 200 buildings with more than 6,000 flats,” Pavlova said. 

Only two weeks after Pavlova presented her ERBH programme, the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Delyan Dobrev, has launched his “Energy Efficiency and Green Economy Programme” (EEGEP). Starting on 14 May, small and medium enterprises can apply for subsidies that will cover parts of their project to implement energy-saving and renewable technologies, such as solar heating and cooling. EEGEP is funded by the OP C and has a budget of EUR 150 million. The investment cap for a single project is at EUR 1 million.

As with the ERBH scheme, applicants for EEGEP projects are also required to provide 50% of the project costs themselves. If they fall short of this amount, they can apply for low-interest loans from the EBRD credit line “Bulgaria Energy Efficiency for Competitive Industry Financing Facility” (BEECIFF), which has a total budget of EUR 150 million. “This is a pilot project because it´s the first time a credit line by the EBRD and the Operative Programme Competitiveness together lead to the realisation of such projects,” Dobrev said during the EEGEP presentation on 25 April 2012.

Subsidies are not cumulative, which means residential clients can either use ERBH or REECL and commercial clients either BEERECL or EEGEP. “As it is the general rule with projects financed through EU Operational Programmes, we will check all applications to make sure that energy efficiency projects are not funded through other incentive programmes as well,” Bisser Mladenov from the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism told solarthermalworld.org.

More information:
Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works: www.mrrb.government.bg
Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism: www.mi.government.bg/bg
Corporate Commercial Bank: www.corpbank.bg
BEECIFF: www.beeciff.org/cms/

Frank Stier is a Sofia-based journalist working for print and online media, and news agencies: www.socb.de

Country / Region


Name of programme

Energy Efficiency and Green Economy Programme (EEGEP)

Type of incentive

Combination of grants and loans

Eligible techno-logies

The list of eligible materials and equipment, which can be found on www.beeciff.org, also contains solar water heaters.

Applicable sectors

Small and medium enterprises


Applicants can cover 50% of their project costs with a grant from the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism. To co-finance the second half of the investment, they can also apply for low-interest loans from the EBRD scheme “Bulgaria Energy Efficiency for Competitive Industry Financing Facility” (BEECIFF).

Maximum incentive

The maximum grant per project is EUR 1 million.

Require-ments for system

There are no specific system requirements.

Require-ments for installation

There are no specific installation requirements. However, there are two independent programme assistants for technical evaluation and verification issues, who will support applicants in their projects.

Finance provider

Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism

The loans by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are available through six commercial banks (Allianz Bank Bulgaria, DSK Bank Bulgaria, MKB Unionbank, ProCredit Bank Bulgaria, Raiffeisen Bank Bulgaria and UniCredit Bulbank).

Total funds

Up to EUR 300 million (EUR 150 million for grants, up to EUR 150 million for loans)

Funding sources

EU Structural Fund Operative Programme “Competitiveness”

Effective date

14 May 2012

Expiration date

No expiration date set.




Last review of this tabloid

April 2012


Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism

Director OP Competitiveness

Ms Greta Dobreva

Slavyanska Street 8, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

Phone: +359 2 940 7500; +395 2 940 7501
Email: g.dobreva@mee.government.bg




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