The road to small-scale clean energy consumers takes us to the village of Dibich in Shumen. The proximity to the regional town – 10 km away, the presence of a school, the quiet and green environment, make it a wonderful home for the just over 1000 inhabitants who permanently live there. One of them is Tsvetoslav Georgiev and his family. The 14 solar panels on the roof are still visible from the street. And in front of them flies the Bulgarian flag.
Tsvetoslav welcomes us with a big smile and homemade lemonade in his small green yard. He doesn’t even need to say that he is interested in everything related to “a lifestyle closer to nature”. It goes without saying. However, it’s his love of physics that leads him to green energy production. It was because of this that he started his degree course in Germany and met specialists who deal with renewable energy sources (RES).
In 2014, a German friend of his offered him the opportunity and sponsorship to build a small renewable energy plant with a peak power of 3 kW to support the needs of his household in Bulgaria. He gave him 14 photovoltaic panels.
Although for Tsvetoslav this is a “rudimentary technical project”, he found a company to build the photovoltaic installation. After the installation permit and the installation, the grid connection turned out to be the most serious problem. “It took me more than 2 years and a bunch of paperwork”, the young man thinks back.
The first problem he faces is the requirement of multiple, disparate documents. “I initially made one set, which later turned out not to be what I needed. So I started again. Each document delayed me by a month, two, three. It made the process much longer. The good thing was that I had a lot of free time back then”, the Shumenite finds a positive in the whole story.
After 2 years of collecting and filling in all kinds of paperwork, Cvetoslav is happy that he could sign a contract at all. He agrees to any conditions.
“In order to be able to join the system, I signed a declaration that I waive preferential prices for the electricity produced. What I can produce and use for myself is pure profit to me. What I was returning to the grid, in 2016-2017, was paid at an almost symbolic price – 6.4 st./kW,” says Cvetoslav. The so-called income for him became rather a nuisance. “I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork because of the few leva a month I get. I was even willing not to pay them, if only to get rid of all the paperwork. But there was no legal way for that to happen,” the man opens a thick folder with all sorts of forms.
The process has eased over the years, but not because of legal changes. “We’ve managed to beg off – the paperwork I do is once a year. Until two years ago I had to submit documents every month to the Energy Authority, to the Energy System Security Fund, every three months to the Sustainable Energy Development Agency, annual reports…”
“Paperwork should be kept to a minimum and done once a year. The fees should be paid for a longer period so that one does not waste time”, Tsvetoslav reflects aloud. He has studied the process in Germany. There, every month, the respective power utility balances the bills of so-called green energy producing consumers by deducting the surplus energy returned to the grid from the kilowatts consumed by the grid. This is so-called net metering, which is yet to be adopted in the country with the changes to the Renewable Energy Act, probably in the autumn. It would be a big help if the issue is solved with a single deduction, Georgiev believes. In his words, when you produce energy for your own consumption, it is not business. “It’s equivalent to planting vegetables in my garden or planting fruit trees and enjoying their fruits.”
Taking stock of what he has achieved, Tsvetoslav Georgiev is adamant: “I am happy that I can have a photovoltaic system. This has been a dream for me. But I am very unhappy about all the hassles associated with it. When December-January arrives, I am in mourning because of all the requirements and documentation I am faced with. I’m ready to give up the money I get for the power I put back into the grid, if only I could have the peace of mind to use the system without dealing with any red tape.” But he doubts that would happen…