By 2050, European cities should be carbon-neutral, sustainable and ensure a high quality of life. In order to achieve this goal, society as a whole must become more responsible and mutual accountability must be shared among all actors. In order to successfully achieve the energy transition, we need mechanisms to address the environmental, economic and social aspects of the process, analysing the policies of different sectors in partnership with civil society, taking into account how citizens design their future.

As the energy transition involves radical changes in the structure, culture and practices of energy production, consumption, storage and distribution, local governments cannot carry out this journey on their own. On the contrary, the energy transition requires the effective involvement of key structures and beneficiaries alongside the administration. Ambitious goals and political commitments must therefore be linked to the commitment of civil society in decision-making and their implementation. This interdependence reveals the challenge behind the Municipal Energy Management.
In this context, the new project MENERGERS – Energy Managers’ Services in Municipalities intervenes. This is an EUKI funded initiative to support local administrations to efficiently coordinate the energy transition toward low-emissions cities. The main objective of the project is to enable and empower municipalities in Bulgaria and Romania to best manifest their role as Community Energy Managers and to thus contribute to the national Energy and Climate targets.

MENERGERS will develop and test a model for Community Energy Management in Bulgarian municipalities and, at the same time, Romania will improve and upscale the same services in the framework of its municipal context and legislation. The project is valuable because:

  • Relevant updates of Bulgarian legislation will be discussed and proposed
  • Research on good practices & existing status quo in Germany & Romania will be conducted
  • Current curricula for energy managers, as well as public legislation and regulations will be analysed and provided
  • Examples for public buildings refurbishment and energy transitions will be included
  • Suitable energy management systems will be recommended
  • 2 study visits for BG and RO participants to Germany follow the research.

Coordinated by the National Trust Ecofund, the Bulgarian Fund managing assets from the state budget, such as the Debt-for-Environment and the Debt-for-Nature swaps, benefitting from the experience offered by the German Independent Institute For Environmental Issues, a scientific and officially recognized non-governmental organization acting in Energy Efficiency & Energy Transition, Climate Protection & Transformative Education, Environmental Law & Participation, Nature Protection & Environmental Communication, the consortium is also formed of Sofia Energy Agency, a Bulgarian non-governmental non-profit organization established by Sofia Municipality together with the European Commission for local energy management, and of Energy Cities Romania, a network formed of local authorities in energy transition, fighting to reach climate neutrality.

This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. More information can be found at

In November, SOFENA started a new project “MENERGERS – Energy Managers` Services in Municipalities”, under the EUKI program of the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate Actions

The kick-off meeting was online on 08.12.2022 with the participation of representatives of all partners from Bulgaria, Romania and Germany.

The National Trust Eco Fund is the coordinator.

The project aims to initiate a change in the roles of the Bulgarian and Romanian municipal administrations by supporting them in building organizational capacity and expertise in order to train effective energy managers who are able to implement their activities towards achieving the national goals in the field of EE and RES .

Within the framework of the project, reports with proposals for changes in the legislation in the field of EE and RES of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania will be developed.

Through consultations and workshops, a model for energy managers will be created, which will be piloted in 3 Bulgarian municipalities for a period of 1 year.

All results and collected data will be analyzed and summarized, and the conclusions will serve to initiate legislative changes in both countries.

The General Assembly meeting of the project Lightness took place in Amsterdam on 29 and 30.11.2022.

On the first day the participants discussed the achieved results for the last 6 months and also the organization of workshops in Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and Netherlands.

The 5 pilot local energy communities with their peculiarities and national features are moving ahead and have some interesting results that will be described in details in the end of the project.

All work package leaders presented their conclusions and reports prepared up to now.   

The second day of the project meeting started with a study visit of the Dutch pilot, which is in the new urban development “Quatrebras”, located in Badhoevedorp. For the pilot, is used one of the three parts of Quatrebras, i.e. “Quatrebras Park”, which consists of single-family houses, a school, a sport center and a social house for about 30 people. The PV installations are on the roofs of the single family houses and their number for now is 15.

The use of multiple pilot sites has the potential to provide greater economies of scale, offer a variety in the learnings that will be achieved and allow for the development of multi-community forming strategies.

i.LECO is a technical aggregator and Local Energy Community (LEC) provider, and as a cross-pilot overall provider sub-contract tasks to the pilot site locations such as common activities with local DOS, etc.

On 30th of November 2022 Sofia Energy Agency SOFENA organized a local seminar on the Legal Issues of Energy Communities under LIGHTNESS project in the city of Sofia.

The seminar was part of a two-day event – the XVI National Conference of the Association of the Bulgarian Energy Agencies held on 29 and 30th of November 2022 at the premises of the hotel Hyatt Regency.

The event took part under Panel 3 “Legal aspects for the uptake of the energy communities in Bulgaria and the good practices in other EC countries” in the morning of 30th of November 2020 (see agenda).

As a whole over 60 people were registered and participated in person and online in the event.

44 participants from different organizations and companies, attended the event, in addition over 25 other persons took part online. There were representatives from governmental centres, from the Association of the municipalities along Danube River, the Institute on green politics, the Consumers association, the Chamber of installers in Bulgaria, Bulgarian Council on youth development , State fund on energy efficiency and renewable  agency, Greenpeace Bulgaria, Habitat Bulgaria, local energy agencies , SMEs, Isgrei Ltd energy community, law firms representatives, and others.

After the coffee break Mr Kristian Dimitrov from Greenpeace Bulgaria shared some thoughts on the legal aspects concerning the tasks on the transposition of energy communities. The jurist Mr Pavlin Stoyanov pointed out the main changes that have to be taken in the Bulgarian legislation on energy community development. An interesting discussion took place on these issues conducted by Dr Maria Trifonova, lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Sofia University.  A series of questions on energy communities’ foundation, functioning, net metering and other issues were raised by the participants and the presenters answered to them. The event was officially closed at 13.00 but the participants continued the discussions in informal manner.

The seminar was moderated by Dr Zdravko Georgiev, the Executive Director of SEA SOFENA who presented the panellists. Mr. Georgi Stefanov, climate and energy expert described the engagement of Bulgaria concerning the Energy transition in Europe and the Green Energy Package.

Dr Nadya Nikolova acquainted the audience with the tasks of the LIGHTNESS project and the results of the provided by SEA SOFENA Regulatory Impact Analysis for Citizen Energy Communities and Flexibility Services. An overview was presented of the practices in the project partner countries and the definitions of the energy communities – of CEC and REC were discussed. Mr. Marc-Antoine Andrieux, a trainee from France at SOFENA, presented the experience of France in energy communities. The Bulgarian experience was demonstrated by Dr.  Dragomir Tsanev from EnEffect. He presented the Bulgarian experience in energy communities in the municipalities of Sofia, Burgas and Dobrich.

On November 9 and 10, 2022, the implementation of the three-year DE-RISK project under the HORIZON EUROPE program began in Ankara, Turkey. 11 partners from 7 countries gathered at the meeting, the project coordinator is WEglobal Danismanlik A.S. from Turkey.

As a project partner, SEA SOFENA is responsible for one of the work packages: “Regulatory, political and financial analysis of the current state of the flexible services market” and has a specific task – to develop an “Analysis of the regulatory impact on the flexible services market” in 10 countries of the European Union.

The DE-RISK project aims to promote the implementation of RES systems by promoting local flexibility markets, which will allow safe and reliable integration of RES into the electricity grid.

In order to maximize the impact of the project, innovative business models will be developed, ensuring multiple benefits, equity and sustainability for all participants, and financial schemes will be validated to democratize access to sustainable investments. Finally, a group of experts will develop regulatory recommendations to support a fair, clear and transparent adoption of local flexibility markets.

SOFENA` s team continues working for the development of Energy Communities in Bulgaria.

Regarding this, a new project under the “Life” program was started at the beginning of November 2022, with partners from seven countries, including Spain, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Bulgaria.

On 07.11. and 08.11.2022 the kick-off meeting of “BECKON” project took place in the city of Madrid, Spain. Organizers of the event were representatives of the leading partner “R2M Solution”.

The main goal of the project is to stimulate the establishment of Energy Communities in municipalities, by providing technical assistance and integrated services, preparing guidelines, and building capacity among local authorities.

The main ideas of the project were discussed at the meeting, with each of the work package leaders describing in detail the upcoming activities.

Thanks to the partnership of SOFENA, the Sofia Municipality will become an example for other Bulgarian municipalities, as it is planned to build on its territory: a Technical Assistance Office, an online platform for serving citizens (so-called “one-stop-shop” service ) and to train and build administrative capacity to support the process of creating local energy communities.

December 1st 2021 marked the year 1 of the Lightness project. The Consortium held its 12th month General Assembly meeting virtually (although the original plan was to meet in person in The Netherlands) due to Covid-19 restrictions. Despite it all, partners have managed to keep their spirits lifted and continue to do a great job working towards the promotion of Citizen Energy Communities.

Lightness is taken upon the challenge of empowering citizens to be main actors in the green energy transition in Europe through the implementation of Citizen Energy Communities, a new figure that opens up numerous opportunities for restructuring the energy market while advancing on the EU’s objectives of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

This is an exciting task that joins innovate technologies (smart grids, renewable energy, demand response, flexibility, EV, storage) with innovative solutions and business models, putting in the center of the action the Citizen as an active actor, changing its traditional role from simple consumer to well-informed and active prosumer that takes decisions on the energy market.

With 7 pilots covering different types of communities and located in different geographical areas, the Lightness Consortium is in a privileged position to provide these innovative solutions. One main barrier though, is the lack of national regulation developing the concept of energy communities, making it difficult to implement them . Nevertheless, we are working with citizens and relevant stakeholders to be ready for the explosion of this new figure, trying to get ahead before the future regulatory framework.

In regards with the work package “Replication, Exploitation and Market Uptake”, R2M has guided the Consortium in the identification of 12 Exploitable Results, ranging from technological solutions (demand response services, IT assessment tool, platform for management of projects, etc.) through sociological and policy solutions (evaluation models, design of processes, policy advice, roadmaps, etc.). The Lightness project will continue working in developing the exploitation strategies to make sure these innovative solutions have an impact in the energy system.

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