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Policy Forum: The Costs and Benefits of Renewables
On 26 April 2011 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a policy forum on the costs and benefits of biomass as a renewable source of energy. Among the participants in the discussion were representatives from the German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ), the Association of Bulgarian Energy Agencies, the Institute for Green Policies, and others.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the discussion outlining the importance of the renewable energy debate in Bulgaria a week after the new Renewable Energy Act was voted by the Bulgarian Parliament. He underscored the importance of good governance for the proper development of a green energy mix in Bulgaria. Mr. Stefanov underlined that the debate in Bulgaria is too much focused on prices now than on their development in the next ten years. Though green energies are portrayed in the public as the main drivers of price hikes of electricity this is misleading and shortsighted, and fails to account for the changing international environment.

Mr. Dietrich Becker, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Germany to Bulgaria, acknowledged the need for a new energy policy complementing the current policies based on fossil fuels. Mr. Becker underlined the need to consider the costs and the negative side effects from every energy source so as to make an informed and transparent decision. According to Mr. Becker, a sustainable use of biomass is only possible in the presence of good governance mechanisms, suitable legislation and its proper implementation. Bulgaria has not yet provided sufficient proof that it can manage its energy sector transparently.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Scholwin, Scientific Director, German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ), shared some positive and negative experiences with biomass in Germany. A key lesson from the German experience was the presence of a stable and consistent government policies, which were instrumental for attracting investors and for developing a healthy business environment.

Mr. Petko Kovachev, Institute for Green Policies, stated that Bulgaria has the necessary resources and technology to produce biomass, yet various governmental policies obstruct the proper development of renewable energy. Mr. Kovachev identified the lack of political will, the existing corruption, and an insufficiently developed legal basis as the most important issues to be tackled.

Dr. Elena Angelova, Coordinator for Southeast Europe, German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ), presented some facts and figures on the production of bio-energy in Germany from biomass. In light of the German experience, Dr. Angelova demonstrated the key role of the German political framework in developing the biomass as a major segment of the energy sector.

Mr. Stefan Schandera, Regional Facilitator, infoDev, World Bank, presented the case for an international scientific collaboration on the development of bio-energy, illustrated through a number of activities and initiatives of his organization and countries like Belarus, the Russian Federation, Kenya, India. A key point was the need to localize the approach to developing bioenergy and focus on the regional needs, local capacity building, and the use of already existing local resources (e.g., infrastructure).

Mr. Ilian Iliev, Chief Executive Officer, Cambridge IP, presented the case for accelerating innovation and technological development in the green energy field. He noted that unlike wind and solar, biomass has not sparked much patent development. Patent applications show consistently that countries, which manage to be early adopters and hold the property rights to a technology stand to benefit much more than late-comers.

Agenda (Adobe PDF, 39 KB)
Presentation by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Scholwin, Scientific Director, German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ) (Adobe PDF, 2.3 MB)
Presentation by Dr. Elena Angelova, Coordinator for Southeast Europe, German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ) (Adobe PDF, 1.6 MB)
Presentation by Mr. Stefan Schandera, Regional Facilitator, infoDev, World Bank (Adobe PDF, 341 KB)
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)
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