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Citizen-led renovation
News article14 February 2024Directorate-General for Energy1 min read

Citizen-Led Energy Initiative in Bulgaria Recognised by Deutsche Welle for Innovative Work

Solar panels belonging to Izgrei, the first energy community in Bulgaria
@Mihail Georgiev

In a recent article published by Deutsche Welle, the pioneering efforts of a grassroots energy project in Bulgaria have garnered attention for their significant impact on clean energy production. The project, led by a small cooperative known as Izgrei that is part of the Citizen-led renovation initiative, is spearheading progress in a country where clean energy initiatives have historically lagged behind much of Europe.

Located in Belozem, a rural village in south-central Bulgaria, Izgrei embarked on a mission several years ago to establish a clean energy collective, inspired by similar endeavors across the European Union. Despite initial challenges posed by Bulgarian law, which did not yet provide a legal framework for energy communities, the founders, Mihail and Tsvetan Georgiev, persisted in their vision to democratise the clean energy transition.

Driven by the pressing needs of their community, particularly in addressing energy poverty and frequent power outages, the Georgiev brothers sought innovative solutions to empower their village. With Mihail's background in environmental studies and Tsvetan's expertise as an engineer, they embarked on the journey to establish Izgrei, marking the first energy community in Bulgaria.

The journey was not without its hurdles. Legal barriers and regulatory constraints presented initial obstacles, but with guidance from NGO experts and international solidarity from organisations like, Izgrei pressed forward. Their perseverance paid off, culminating in the legal recognition of civic energy cooperatives in Bulgaria in October 2023.

At the heart of Izgrei's success lies its commitment to community engagement and empowerment. The cooperative operates democratically, inviting local residents to participate in renewable energy investments and decision-making processes. Today, Izgrei boasts a growing membership and a tangible impact, with solar panels adorning rooftops and surplus electricity being sold back to the grid.

Despite the strides made, challenges persist on the path to sustainable energy transformation in Bulgaria. Legal ambiguities and technical complexities remain hurdles to be addressed. However, initiatives like Izgrei, supported by organisations like the Citizen-led renovation initiative, offer a ray of hope for a brighter, cleaner energy future in Bulgaria.



Publication date
14 February 2024
Directorate-General for Energy