An energy transition training session was organized for representatives of Bulgarian municipalities to highlight the potential for the development of energy communities and public-private cooperation.
Greenpeace Bulgaria, the Faculty of Economics of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and the Association of Environmentalists from Municipalities in Bulgaria held the first online training on the possible benefits from establishing independent energy communities. It is a form of cooperation between citizens and, potentially, local authorities, through which they become an active participant in the production, storage and supply of energy.
The topic is particularly relevant in the light of the European Green Deal and the need to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix, Greenpeace Bulgaria said. The event on energy communities was attended by 75 participants of 30 Bulgarian municipal units, from Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna to smaller towns like General Toshevo, Zlatograd, Ruen, Dragoman and Kresna.
Bulgaria must implement EU rules
No such project has been implemented in the country yet. European Renewable Energy Directive RED II must be transposed by the end of June, defining the rights of citizens in the field of energy. There are high hopes that the act would give an initial impetus to such public-private endeavors, according to Greenpeace Bulgaria.
Municipalities have a very important role in energy transformation as ambassadors of the prosumers concept
“We are deeply convinced that municipalities have a very important role in our energy transformation as ambassadors of the idea of prosumers. With their help, European citizens can receive rights and incentives to produce, consume or store renewable energy in their home, office and community. Then the transition to a modern, flexible, decentralized and sustainable energy system will be a much more feasible goal,” said Meglena Antonova from the organization.
Tool for fighting energy poverty
The training provided practical guidance in areas such as funding, legal framework and community work. Studies show that half of the citizens of the European Union, including local communities, schools and hospitals, can produce renewable energy on their own by 2050, meeting 45% of their energy needs, Greenpeace Bulgaria added.
Local authorities benefit from their support for energy communities, also called energy cooperatives, not least because they provide renewable energy or increase efficiency, the announcement reads. In many EU member states, such projects help local authorities tackle energy poverty.
Because cooperative-owned projects are often cause-oriented rather than profit-oriented, they regularly offer more favorable tariffs for vulnerable households, while reinvesting in energy efficiency, according to the report from the event.