ClimAct CEE: Pioneering climate-neutral zones in the city of Plovdiv

Plovdiv Energy Agency strives to showcase the transformative impact of integrated decarbonised and low-emission policies in their journey towards climate neutrality and sustainable energy transitions.

ClimAct CEE: Pioneering climate-neutral zones in the city of Plovdiv

The City of Plovdiv has been suffering exceedances of the particulate matter (PM) due to the use of firewood for domestic heating. Around 18,000 households heat on firewood and coal producing 539 tons of PM and 52,000 tons of CO2. They cannot afford more environmentally friendly heating and thus become not only the primary cause of dramatic seasonal increases in air pollution, but also major contributors to CO2 emissions.

The Energy Agency of Plovdiv (EAP) has applied an integrated climate-screening framework within the ClimAct CEE project to estimate the impacts of the firewood use on the emission status in a pilot urban zone thus proving that integrated, evidence-based climate policies may contribute to transforming the polluted area into energy-wise, climate-friendly, and clean air space for the citizens to live and enjoy.

The flagship initiative of the decarbonised and low emission urban one is the “Heating replacement programme” which provides 100% state grant for 3,500 households to replace their old heating stoves with environmentally friendly alternatives.

The Energy Agency of Plovdiv provides technical support to the household applicants in the form of on-site home visits, energy and heating diagnostics, professional expertise on alternative heating devices, follow-up and quality control over the installation of new devices. So far, over 4,000 interviews with potential households were conducted, 3,200 contracts for replacement were signed and 5,000 new heating appliances deployed. Altogether, this action will aim at around a 20% reduction in the polluting emissions.

Furthermore, EAP advocates for more intensive efforts in ensuring sustainable biomass utilisation. This means stronger biomass sustainability criteria than the ones introduced in 2016 by the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), introduction of a ‘chimney sweep’ service, dedicated quality assurance and labels of the biomass based fuels and heating devices, and dismissal of support schemes for fossil fuels and firewood.

The Energy Agency of Plovdiv aims to turn its heat replacement campaign into a showcase demonstrating how integrated decarbonised and low-emission policies can be a game-changer in our fight for climate neutrality and a sustainable energy transition.

This best practice is extracted from our publication ‘Sustainable Regions in Action‘. Discover more best practices here!