The Government of Bulgaria established the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency Fund as a public-private partnership, with seed capital from:
- Global Environment Facility (GEF), administered by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) – USD 10 million grant;
- Government of Bulgaria – EUR 1.5 million
- Government of Austria – EUR 1.5 million
- Private donors – USD 170,000
- BgEEF elected to hire a specialized fund manager to operate this facility for the benefit of Bulgarian organizations.
The main objective of the fund was to facilitate energy efficiency investments and promote the development of an energy efficiency market in Bulgaria. The key principles and objectives for the creation of BgEEF were:
- Independent management;
- Sustainability of operations;
- Transparency in the administration of financial resources;
- Equal opportunities for all applicants;
- Energy consumption reduction;
- GHG emission reductions.
After an international bidding process was completed, a consortium created and led by Econoler International, in collaboration with Bulgaria’s Elana Holding and EnEffect, was awarded the mandate to act as the fund manager.
Econoler has been managing the operation of the fund since it was launched in June 2005.
Since then, Econoler has developed all internal processes, procedures, document templates and defined the personnel’s lines of accountability and responsibilities, etc. Econoler has also designed and implemented a specialized IT management information system to manage, monitor and report on client accounts, as well as key financial and technical indicators of the fund, while following the reporting requirements of the IBRD.
Within six months after it had been launched, the fund was adequately staffed and fully operational and launched its first products on the market. Within a year, the first series of projects were successfully financed and the fund developed a strong project pipeline.
In 2006, BgEEF was awarded the title “Number 1 specialized financial institution for energy efficiency financing” by the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency Agency.
In 2007, the fund became the financier of choice for EE in the public sector (municipalities, public healthcare, education, etc.). In the same year, it won the World Bank’s recognition as a “highly satisfactory (or best practice) operation, whose design and implementation should be disseminated internationally”. After having a highly successful start with strong market penetration of its direct lending products, in 2007, BgEEF launched its EE partial credit guarantee product.
In 2008, BgEEF was recognized for a second time as “the best practice operation” by the World Bank. In the same year, the fund launched its EE 5% first-loss portfolio guarantee targeting receivables of Bulgarian ESCO companies on a portfolio basis. The product proved to be well-designed and timely and was very successful.
The fund operations did not suffer from the world economic crisis. So far, it has maintained a strong pipeline. Its financing activities are only constrained by its limited capital since the amount of financed projects currently equals the amount of redeemed loans.
Since its launching, the fund has provided EE loans to a total of 160 projects, with total project investment reaching more than USD 45 million. Additionally, the fund has provided partial credit guarantees or portfolio guarantees to 32 projects, with a total project investment of USD 15.5 million.
So far, using only USD 15 million of capital, the fund has catalyzed more than USD 60 million of EE investment in Bulgaria.
As of June 30, 2013, the investment financed or guaranteed by BgEEF contributed to annual savings of 92,372 MWh/year (USD 9.6 million/year) and 74,000 kt/year of CO2eq.