In mid-October 2023 were introduced significant changes to Bulgarian regulations of renewable energy (“RE”) projects. Those would concern both, projects in progress and future projects. Below is a summary of the changes:
Grid Connection (“GC”) Process
The GC process for RE facilities, for which a Preliminary or Final GC Agreement has been concluded, will be carried out in accordance with the old procedure. Only where a GC Statement has been provided, but a GC Agreement is not in place, the procedure will continue under the new rules.
The Deposit / Bank Guarantee (see below) will have to be provided by 13 January 2024 for RE projects with GC Statement. In case of delay, the GC process for the project will be terminated.
New Authorities and Registers
An Administrative Service Centre will be established in each municipality within by 13 February 2024 with the following main functions:
- to provide guidance and information on procedures for the construction, reconstruction or overhaul repair of energy sites and facilities for RE;
- to organise the administrative services for the issuance of a building permit and/or a certificate for the commissioning of energy facilities and equipment for the production of RE;
- to coordinate the timetable for the construction of the RE project and its commissioning between the applicant, the competent authorities and the Grid Operator.
By April 2024, Grid-Operators will establish and maintain electronic public registers of the pending GC requests with information of: status; concluded agreements and their validity; technical details; available capacity for connection at each point of the electricity transmission or distribution grid, as reflected in a geographical information system.
Shorter Terms for Administrative Procedures
All necessary administrative permits related to the requirements set out for the construction, reconstruction and commissioning of RE facilities will be issued within 1 year.
The GC Statement will be valid for 3 months from granting the Deposit / Bank Statement. Before it expires, the investor will have to submit a request to the respective Grid-Operator for the conclusion of a Preliminary GC Agreement The duration of the agreement remains, as before, 2 years.
The request to enter into the Final GC Agreement will be submitted after the construction permit for the project has entered into force and before the expiry of the Preliminary GC Agreement.
The term of the procedures for connection of an RE facility from the submission of the request for GC Statement until the conclusion of the Final GC Agreement will be 6 months at maximum. This time limit does not include the design and construction of the connection facility, reconstruction and modernisation of RE facility.
Deposit / Bank Guarantee
Within 3 months from receiving a GC Statement the investor will have to provide the Grid-Operator with deposit or bank guarantee in the amount of BGN 50,000 (ca. EUR 25,600) per MW. If the investor fails to do so, the GC Statement will be considered invalid. Upon finalization of the Grid Connection of the Project, the Grid-Operator may release the Deposit / Bank Guarantee or set off the amount against the connection price payable by the investor.
Construction on agricultural land without change of its designation may be carried out for agrophotovoltaics. They are defined as energy facilities for the production of electricity from solar energy, built on agricultural land, which allow the peaceful and unhindered use of agricultural land for its intended purpose.
Broader Scope of Agricultural Land for RE Projects
The construction of PV Power Plants for commercial use is now allowed on non-irrigated agricultural land of fifth to tenth category (or non-eligible for categorization). Before the changes, that was seventh to tenth category.