Author: Desislava Georgieva

Doichin Karshovski is a native of Varna, who has been living in Cincinnati, USA for almost 20 years and works as a wellness and performance coach. He has been installing solar panels on the roof of his home for 5 years. The process takes him two days and two signatures, which he puts on a pre-prepared document. He doesn’t schedule it because of high electricity bills or because he wants to “unplug” from the system. He just wants to replace the tiles on his roof…

Solar roof for a day in the USA

“The time was ripe and I was looking for a company to replace them. At the same time, the company that installed the solar panels had a campaign in my neighborhood,” Doichin begins his story. The company promised him that they would pay for his new roof if he put solar panels on it. It didn’t take long for him to calculate the benefits. So in one day he finds himself with 30 solar panels installed on his new roof. The whole procedure didn’t cost him a trip to any institution in Cincinnati, nor the collection and preparation of documents. “I just agreed. I put two signatures on documents that were pre-formed by the company that installed the solar panels. And no other procedures,” the man marvels at the question.

What tipped the scales towards his decision to install a PV system was the commitment that in any future roof repair, the company would uninstall and then reinstall the panels for free.

The investment made by Doychin Kershovski amounts to $160/month for 8 years. It includes the cost of labor, all materials and panels used, installation and dismantling, and it is provided in installments. Apart from the simplified procedure, the state stimulates the production of green energy by households by providing a so-called tax credit. The tax credit amounts to $7,000 dollars and is received in the year that the PV system is installed. This actually significantly reduces Doichin’s investment and guarantees him a faster payback and return on the investment made.

So 5 years ago, Doichin became a producing consumer of green energy. He uses for his household everything he could from the energy produced by the photovoltaics. The surplus he calls “extra” which he sells back to the company.

PV fields in the country

The US government has organised the process in such a way that in most cases the initiative comes from the companies – installers and energy traders who motivate citizens to install PV systems, said Ilian Iliev from the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development. For almost 20 years the association has been researching the procedures under which one can become a green energy producer in the country.

In Bulgaria, those who explain to citizens how they should not install photovoltaics, be it MPs or big energy companies, build huge fields of photovoltaic parks, says Iliev. According to him, if you put a PV on your roof, it will automatically reduce their profits and lighten your wallet.

With the changes in the Renewable Energy Act, concepts such as “producing consumers”, “net virtual metering”, “net metering”, “energy communities” should be put into practice in our country as well, to ease the procedure for citizens who want to produce green energy.

The example of Ukraine

It is a fact that for two years changes in the world energy sector have been happening very fast. The reason is the war in Ukraine and the sharp rise in energy prices. Denitsa Petrova leads a Greenpeace campaign called “Green Ukraine Recovery”. As part of it, the organisation is making a hospital in the Bucha region completely independent of conventional fuels. Part of the hospital was destroyed by bombing in the first days of the war, and from March to May last year it operated entirely without electricity. Greenpeace decided that this was the perfect example of making a building independent of both the central grid and fossil fuels. In the autumn of 2022,Currently, the hospital in Horenka runs only on solar energy. And it can even power the whole area during the summer months. At the moment, this is not happening because, both in Bulgaria and in Ukraine, this is not legally possible. No wonder, however, that the Ukrainians will overtake us. Legislation is to be passed this summer to introduce net metering and make it possible to use all the electricity generated by the hospital.

About Energy Freedom

“It’s freedom from fossil fuels – not depending on coal, not depending on gas. To be able to enjoy the sun and a clean environment”, says Denitsa Petrova from Greenpeace. It is the organisation that makes the term “energy freedom” popular. This means citizens who have the opportunity to produce electricity from their own sources, be it photovoltaic, wind or others, to do so and to be free from the pricing policy of large suppliers – monopolists, said Petko Kovatchev from the Green Policy Institute. The other freedom is the freedom to have constant energy, regardless of interruptions in supply, repairs, breakdowns, etc. Last but not least is the freedom to exchange energy with neighbours, an association, a neighbourhood, so that it is used most efficiently, with as little loss as possible, says Kovatchev.

“Bulgarians are very aware of the benefits of renewable energy. Unfortunately, the same administrative obstacles have stood in their way for years. It is difficult to put panels on your roof and be connected to the grid so that you can supply electricity to neighbouring buildings,” says Denitsa Petrova. In her view, Bulgaria lacks the political will to liberate the system so that citizens participate in the energy transformation.

Will Bulgarians live like in the movie “The Matrix” – connected to a grid in a fictional reality created by monopolists and politicians, or will we become a little more independent by unplugging some of the cables?

We live in a world where anything is possible. And we at the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development and Green Laws are doing everything we can to show you the possibilities.

If you like what we’re doing, if we’ve inspired you even a little, you can support our efforts here.

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Improving public knowledge about the role of Civil Society Organizations

The project “Improving public knowledge about the role of Civil Society Organizations” shall be implemented with the financial support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The main goal of the project is to improve citizens’ awareness of the role of non-governmental organizations in society. This material is established with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The whole responsibility for the content of the document is held by the Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development and under no circumstances can this material be considered to reflect the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria.