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.
Econoler developed all internal processes, procedures, and document templates, as well as defined the personnel’s lines of accountability and responsibilities, etc. Econoler also established and implemented a specialized IT 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 of launch, the fund was adequately staffed and fully operational and introduced its first products on the market (direct lending and partial credit guarantees). Within a year, the first series of projects was successfully financed and the fund established a strong project pipeline.
In 2006, the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency Agency awarded EERSF the title of Number 1 Specialized Financial Institution for Energy Efficiency Financing.
In 2007, the fund became the energy efficiency financier of choice in the public sector (municipalities, public healthcare, education, etc.). In that same year, it won the World Bank 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 direct lending products, EERSF also launched its EE partial credit guarantee product.
In 2008, EERSF was recognized for a second time as a Best Practice Operation by the World Bank. In that same year, the fund launched its EE 5% first-loss portfolio guarantee that targets receivables of Bulgarian Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) on a portfolio basis. The product proved well designed, very successful, and timely.
Fund operations have not suffered from the world economic crisis. So far, the fund has maintained a strong pipeline. Its financing activities are only constrained by limited capital since the dollar amounts of financed projects currently equal that of redeemed loans.
Because of the high professional standards imposed and followed by the fund management team, EERSF’s loan and guarantee portfolio remained extremely healthy throughout the years, recording very low NPL rates and no loan write-offs. The core fund management team members have spent over 10 years with EERSF and are well recognized and renowned EE experts at the national and international levels.
Since launching, the fund has provided EE loans to a total of 197 projects, with a total project investment value of over USD 49.3 million (BGN 83.4 million). Additionally, it has provided partial credit guarantees or portfolio guarantees to 32 projects, for total project investments of USD 14.3 million (BGN 24.2 million).
Using only USD 15 million of capital, the fund has catalyzed more than USD 63 million in EE investment in Bulgaria. As of the end of Q1 2018, the investments financed or guaranteed by EERSF contributed to annual savings of 121,621 MWh/year and 88,792 kt/year of CO2eq.