WORLD BANK PAYS FOR ECONOMIZING ON ENERGY
The World Bank (WB) has expressed readiness to release USD10MN for the establishment of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources Fund. The future of that structure was one of the mostly discussed issues at the Second International Conference on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources, held during the week. The Energy Efficiency Act, which will regulate the fund's operation, is almost ready and according to the Chairman of the Energy Commission Vesselin Bliznakov, will be moved to Parliament by end-June. By approving the legilsative act EU's requirement to set the energy efficiency as a leading national priority will be be fulfilled. The Renewable Energy Resources Fund will be the main instrument for promoting the introduction of energy saving technologies. It will allocate loans of USD100,000 to USD2MN for the implementation of projects, improving the energy efficiency. The credits, to be extended to natural persons, firms, and public institutions, will be allocated at low interest rates and wil be repayable within at least three or four years, including a grace period. However, the WB's stance could cerate problems to the fund's establsihment. One of the conditions of the international financial institution's Global Ecology Fund for leaunching the promised USD10MN is that the new structure should be neither 100% state-owned or private. According to information of the BANKER weekly, the money which the WB intends to reelase shall not be sufficient for the normal funtioning of the fund. The experience of similar structures in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe shows that at least 5-fold that amount is necessary. The fund's management will be probably entrusted to an Executive Board, headed by the Energy Minister. Representatives of private firms and NGOs will participate in its managerial team. Another interesting moment is that the Agency for Energy Efficiency has not been included so far in the plans for the new structure's management. And it is the state body, which is responsible for the energy efficiency policies. The necessary investments in the projects will exceed BGN325MN. Both Bulgarian and foreign investors will be sought for their implementation. The greatest interest so far has been shown towards the construction of small hydroelectric power stations, Porf. Konstantin Shoushoulov, Chairman of the State Commission for Energy Regulation (SCER), said. About 700 applications for designing the new hydroelectric power plants have been already been filed to the Ministry of Environment and Waters. Interest has been shown as well towards the construction of solar and wind power stations. However, according to Prof. Shoushoulov, there are quite a number of hindrances to the fulfillment of projects. The major one, he says, is the high purchase price of the generated electricity, proposed by the investors (way up the BGN0.08/kWh, set by the SCER).