The latest amendments to the Bulgarian Spatial Development Act introducing the simplified procedure for constructing photovoltaic systems on rooftops entered into force on 20 January 2023, easing the regime for the installation of small power plants.
It is now no longer necessary to obtain a construction permit for the construction, repair or replacement of photovoltaic facilities to produce electricity and any other installations for the production of electricity, heat and/or cooling energy from renewable sources on existing single-family homes and country houses and their adjoining land plots.
These amendments are adopted in the light of the expected launch of the programme for receiving grants for households under the National Recovery and Development Plan for constructing photovoltaic systems for electricity production and water heating systems for self-consumption. The amendments were necessary to enable more households to benefit from the grants, as the construction of small installations has become easier. We also expect this simplification of the administrative procedure to result in many households wishing to construct installations meeting the conditions below, which will lead to increased demand for purchasing installations and the development of associated bank products (consumer loans).
Conditions for applying the simplified procedure
For this preferential regime to apply to the construction or renovation of installations for electricity, heat and/or cooling energy production from renewable sources, the following conditions must be met:
- the installations must be constructed on existing single-family homes and country houses or on their adjoining land plots;
- the energy produced by the installations must be used for self-consumption only;
- the installed power must be up to 20 kW.
So far, a construction permit was required for the construction of such small-scale installations for the production of electricity, heat and/or cooling energy from renewable sources for self-consumption. The relevant permitting process was а disproportionate administrative burden for households.
The adopted amendments facilitate the construction and maintenance of small PV installations because neither a construction permit nor approval of the investment designs is required.
Notification procedure instead of approval
The Spatial Development Act introduces a new simplified notification regime for the construction of small installations with power up to 20 kW for energy production from renewable sources for self-consumption.
The authorities that must be notified of the construction or repair of such an installation are the chief architect of the relevant municipality and the relevant distribution system operator.
The notification procedure precedes the construction of the facilities.
A notification letter must be submitted to the chief architect of the respective municipality 14 days prior to the commencement of construction. It must contain information about the capacity of the facilities and their location. Design solutions for "Structures", "Electrical" and/or "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning" (HVAC) with drawings, schematics, calculations, technical specifications and installation instructions ensuring safe operation and protection against returning electrical energy to the distribution grid have to be attached to the notification.
The owner of the site in which the facilities will be installed, together with the contractor, will sign a declaration that the installation has been placed under electrical voltage and has been completed in accordance with the technical documentation. This declaration must again be notified to the chief architect of the relevant municipality within 14 days after the completion of the installation.
The relevant distribution system operator must also be notified within the same period where the building is connected to the grid.
Sanctions for failure to notify
If the above notifications are not submitted accordingly, the law provides among other things for an administrative penalty in the form of a fine ranging from BGN 1,000 to BGN 5,000.
By Elena Todorova, Counsel, and Marin Demirev, Attorney at Law, Schoenherr