Focus On - March 2011

Chepelare, Bulgaria: public buildings set the path for sustainable energy solutions

facts about ChepelareThe ski resort of Chepelare was acclaimed the first municipality in Bulgaria to reach full independence from fossil fuels in its heating of public buildings. The achievement was recognised and rewarded by the Association of Bulgarian Energy Agencies (ABEA).

RES Awards 2010Chepelare’s success was celebrated in Plovdiv between 25 and 26 November  2010 during the sixth national conference of ABEA, which is the Bulgarian participant in the RES Champions League project.

At the conference, not only was Chepelare installed as the first member of ABEA’s One Hundred Percent Club for reaching independence from fossil fuels, but it was also awarded the silver medal in the Biomass League. Sharing the silver medal were the firms Erato Holding AD and Elido OOD.

Embracing biomass with the citizens’ support

biomass unit at Kindergarten “Elhitsa”, ChepelareChepelare’s efforts started two years ago, when the municipality switched the heating in two buildings – a kindergarten and a vocational school – from oil to biomass.

Last year there was one more achievement, as five additional public buildings in Chepelare switched from oil to biomass for heating. These buildings included two more kindergartens, one sports school, and one municipal administration building.

The public opinion has been positive and supportive, especially the parents of small children, who now benefit from the improved air quality at school. Some of the parents had for years worried about the air quality in both the schools and in the community at large, and had voiced support for the switch to less polluting fuel.

Concrete results and next steps

As of December 2010, with seven buildings now having converted to biomass, here is where the city stands:

  • the share of total energy consumption represented by renewable energy sources has risen from 0% in 2006 to 49%
  • carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 48%
  • the total energy consumption has decreased by 21%

The city’s taxpayers also have reasons to rejoice. Chepelare has already cut its municipal energy expenses by 44% from the 2006 level. A year from now, expenses will be 57% lower than the baseline.

In 2011, four more buildings – three schools and a municipal children’s complex – will convert to biomass. Once the conversion has been completed:

  • 69% of the city’s energy consumption and 100% of its heating budget will be derived from renewable sources
  • carbon dioxide emissions will have been reduced by 69% from the 2006 baseline
  • the total energy consumption will have been reduced by 30%

Chepelare: becoming independent from fossil fuels

ABEA‘What this city has accomplished is truly outstanding, and I hope that other Bulgarian towns and cities will accept it as a challenge’, says Liyana Adjarova, chair of ABEA and executive director of the Energy Agency of Plovdiv. ‘Here is an opportunity to provide citizens with cleaner air, reduce dependence from fossil fuels, and save money!’

‘Meanwhile, Chepelare, having conquered the public sector, will be in a position to turn its attention to the private sector – to households, hotels, restaurants, in fact to every place in the municipality where energy is being consumed.’

Using biomass for heating


The processing, storage, transportation and combustion of biomass at the Vocational School of Agriculture, Forestry and Tourism, in N. Vaptsarov, Chepelare