International Study of RE-Regions: The Community of Chepelare

Keywords: renewable energy region, 100% renewable energy self sufficiency region, Chepelare, renewable energy in Chepelare.

Chepelare municipality is located in the Rhodopi mountain,[1] in the central of the mountain by the Chepelare River in the southern part of Bulgaria. The town of Chepelare (Figure 1) is 230 km from the capital of Bulgaria “Sofia”,[2] 80 km from the city of Plovdiv (the second largest city in Bulgaria), and 22 km away from the district center, Smolyan.[1][2] It is located nearby the municipality of Smolyan, Lucky, Devin, Assenovgrad, and Rhodopi. The territory covers 384 km2 which 73% is forest, 14% is flatland and meadows, and 11% is agricultural land.[2]

 

The municipality has a total population of around 8964 people with 5824 people in the city and the rest spread out among 11 smaller surrounding villages. The ratio of population lives in the city to the villages is 65:35.

The main activity is tourism, timber, and woodworking industries. 4,500 ha of forest area is municipal property.

Tourists from across Bulgaria and abroad come during summer and winter every year.

Smolyan Region

There is a number of regional documents concerning environmental and energy issues in the Smolyan region (Figure 4). The most important documents: “Strategy of development of the Smolyan region – 2005-2015” and “Regional Plan for development of South Central Planning Region 2007-2013”. Realization of the project will contribute to fulfillment of the assumptions made in these documents.

 

Energy Facts

Number of households (customers) of energy supply is around 1000 households. The energy consumption is around 207,601 GJ (57,713 MWh). Total heated flat area is around 23,247 m

2

public buildings. Type of fuels used (for heating) are wood, oil for heating of public buildings, and electricity (Figure 3).

 

There is no district heating system, but at the same time the majority of single-family houses, hotels, and all public buildings are equipped in individual heat sources using mostly wood and oil. The number of hotels and households which use bioenergy (especially wood) for heating and solar energy for heating boiler for hot water is increasing.

Due to inefficiencies of various kind of heating systems, the use of wood used is quite high.[5] Analyses of the municipal budget showed high expenditures for public buildings heated by oil in order to cover the longer heating season in Chepelare (Figure 4).[1] In the stating point condition, no energy efficiency plan developed and joint venture biomass company was established.[5]

 

Bulgaria Obligation of Energy

In Bulgaria every municipality is obliged to create and implement a municipal energy plan. Regarding the Chepelare Municipality is one of the municipalities that fulfilled this requirement.

[4]Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) Tools Pilot Action

Sustainable Energy Action Plan

In relation to the existing planning process, the pilot actions have focused on:

  • Extending the current heat plan for the Town of Chepelare.
  • Development of a new local planning guideline aiming at developing the current heat planning process e.g. involving demand-side and utilization of RES to a higher extent and putting more focus on the implementation of measures.
  • Identifying priorities for the future planning process.

A program for energy efficiency, on the basis of a biomass potential assessment study and feasibility studies for public and residential buildings, was developed and accepted by the municipal council in 2007. The main objectives of the energy planning is to substitute oil fuels with biomass fuels and utilize solar energy for hot tap water production for energy savings. This technology was chosen due to the location in the Rhodopi mountain, the mostly is covered by forest, and relatively high number of sunny days (265 days per year).

Local Energy Market

In relation to the current situation in the municipality, there is a need to find ways to finance and implement the energy projects. The pilot actions have comprised:

  • Energy audits of public buildings.
  • Identifying financing options for energy projects.
  • Feasibility analysis about construction of a district heating plant.

Energy audit were performed in 11 buildings, including a school hostel, a high school, primary schools, office buildings, and a sports hall. It has been estimated that there is a potential to reduce the consumption in public buildings with about 50%.

Due to there is no district heating system in Chepelare, the municipality is currently looking into the possibility of establishing a biomass fired heating plant to supply several public buildings in the Town, which are located close to each other.[4]

Mobilizing End-Users

During the SEC Tools project various communications were held with end-users. This included energy management training seminars and meetings with hotel owners and SMEs (carpenters etc.) in Chepelare. Hotel owners were presented with development options for energy savings and utilisation of local wood energy resources. A lot of hotels already use solar collectors for hot water production. There is big interest from the wood-processing enterprises about using biomass heating in their enterprises during the winter.

Achieved Activities

There are some numbers of activities have been achieved:

  • Starting development of Local Energy plan
  • Collection of energy consumption data for public and residential buildings
  • Collection of energy data for different sectors
  • Preliminary analysis of energy data
  • Conducted end-users (householders) survey
  • Some publications related to the project
  • Various communications during the project with end-users

Priority Actions

There are four actions to be executed, in orderly priority:

  1. Sustainable energy plan development
  2. Energy efficiency measures implementation in public buildings
  3. RES (biomass) supply – fuels substitution from oil to biomass fuels
  4. Awareness raising and energy education

Fuel Change Concept

Existing situation-oil fuels consumption:

  • Public buildings: 250 tonnes/year
  • Family hotels: 120 tonnes/year
  • Large hotels in Pamporovo: 1,000 tonnes/year
  • Total: 1370 tonnes/year X 850 € =1,143,950 €

 

The present primary wood consumption for heating in residential buildings is about 20,000 m

(5,300 tonnes) . The cost is around 410,000 Euro with stove efficiency 35%. The benefit of this system with 85% efficiency is, it will reduce primary wood consumption more then twice.

Experience of the city – Partnership Process

How the partnership has been established with local, regional, national, European partnerships, main stakeholders (8 lines)?

The Municipality of Chepelare started building partnerships with the timber and word-processing sector. It has contracted timber production from its own forests with different woodworking companies. Delivery of chips is a contractual provision in 5 contracts for 2007. Chips will be used for heating municipal buildings during 2008 – 2009. The next steps will be building partnerships with hotel owner to present the pilot actions for public buildings and raising their awareness of benefits from fuel conversion.[1]