The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it joined Bulgaria's government in providing a combined 300 million euro ($395 million) to support energy efficiency projects undertaken by local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Bulgaria's economy ministry launched on Wednesday the Energy Efficiency and Green Economy Programme under which it will grant a total of 150 million euro made available from EU structural funds and this sum will be complemented by a credit line of up to 150 million euro provided by the EBRD, the bank said in a statement.
The first credit lines provided by the EBRD for a total amount of 52 million euro will be extended to six local banks which will provide sub-loans to local SMEs for financing investments in energy saving technologies, as well as small scale renewable energy projects such as solar thermal and heat pumps.
Upon a project's successful implementation the SMEs will receive grants of 30% to 50% of the eligible project costs. The grants will be managed by the Bulgarian economy ministry.
"The programme is designed to assist Bulgarian SMEs to 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," the statement quoted EBRD's managing director for Central and Southeastern Europe, Jean Marc Petershmitt, as saying.
Bulgaria's energy intensity is more than five times higher than the average for the EU 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% of the national energy use.