The EBRD is joining forces with the Bulgarian government to help increase the energy efficiency and competitiveness of local enterprises.
Bulgaria’s energy intensity is more than five times higher than the average for the European Union and transition to a low carbon economy is one of the key priorities for the country. Bulgaria’s industry sector is the largest consumer, accounting for 40 per cent of the national energy use.
To address the energy intensity of the Bulgarian economy the government is today launching the Energy Efficiency and Green Economy Programme, under its Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness’. The new initiative launched in Sofia involves a grant component of up to €150 million made available from EU Structural Funds, managed by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism. This grant component is complemented by a credit line of up to €150 million provided by the EBRD under the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency for Competitive Industry Finance Facility (BEECIFF).
By twinning the EBRD financing with the use of EU grants, the EBRD is also helping Bulgaria to achieve greater absorption of EU Structural Funds.
The EBRD financing will be extended via local partner banks, which will provide sub-loans to Bulgarian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to finance eligible investments in energy saving technologies, as well as small scale renewable energy projects such as solar thermal and heat pumps.
Upon successful implementation of these investments, companies will be able to receive grants of 30 to 50 per cent of the eligible costs. The grants will be managed and paid by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy.
During the implementation of the programme, the Ministry will be supported by technical consultants who will undertake the role of project assistant and verification assistant and will be financed from EU Structural Funds.
The first six credit lines under EBRD’s BEECIFF, for a total amount of €52 million, will be extended to:
- Allianz Bank Bulgaria
- DSK Bank
- MKB Unionbank
- ProCredit Bank Bulgaria
- Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria
- UniCredit Bulbank
These banks will be responsible for the assessment of the credit worthiness of the SMEs applying for grants and will provide funding to those SMEs who need resources for the implementation of their projects.
“The EBRD’s facility launched today is the first co-financing instrument alongside EU Structural Funds targeting sustainable energy investments in the SME sector. The programme is designed to help Bulgarian SMEs reduce their energy consumption and carbon foot print. It is also expected to have an important demonstration effect of using highly efficient technologies as a means of improving competitiveness,” said Jean Marc Peterschmitt, EBRD Managing Director for Central and South-Eastern Europe.
“The Green Economy Programme brings considerable financing for the development of local companies and will contribute to raising the overall competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy. The programme will be available in the market until the end of 2013 when the current implementation timetable for EU Structural Funds ends. We anticipate this programme to be fully implemented by then. Any future programmes for energy efficiency in enterprises will offer significantly lower levels of grant support in line with EU objectives to promote market sustainability. Companies are encouraged to take advantage of this scheme while the funds remain available,” said Delian Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism.
Since the beginning of its operations in Bulgaria the EBRD has invested more than €2.5 billion in over 200 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. With total project value exceeding €8 billion, the EBRD’s funds have helped mobilise over €5.5 billion in co-financing from other sources.