Description of the active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe
Prof. Plamen Tsvetanov is a Bulgarian professor, expert and practitioner in the fields of energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Throughout his carrier he has been working for several research organizations in Bulgaria, Eastern European Coutries, Russia and the US. In Bulgaria, Prof. Plamen Tsvetanov has participated in comprehensive energy systems analyses, energy modelling and energy policy analyses for local, regional and national policymaking. He has participated in over 200 national and international projects in power and energy system automation and control and energy modelling, energy policy analysis, and energy-to-economy interactions, including projects of IIASA, World Energy Council, UNESCO, European Commission. He has authored over 120 publications, including 7 books.
Prof. Plamen Tsvetanov’s life-long dedication to opposing the centralized nuclear energy generation in Bulgaria and advocating the small decentralized utilization of local energy resources for sustainable energy production have logically led to his immense support for the establishment and development of the Bulgarian energy agencies. He has led the political and expert processes related to creating a niche for the work of the energy agencies in Bulgaria.
With his relentless belief in a greener future, Prof. Tsvetanov has promoted the establishment of energy agencies on local levels as main drivers for achieving more energy independent and resilient local communities. He has supported the energy agencies in shaping their mission to serve the sustainable energy planning processes and has thus made them role models exemplifying high professional standards and true defenders of the rights of the local communities to secure, green and affordable energy.
His contribution to the uptake of the local sustainable energy planning and development has become all the more impressive considering that for more than 20 years now the Bulgarian energy agencies as his legacy have become major drivers for the low-carbon transition of the local communities in Bulgaria. Thus, we at the Energy Agency of Plovdiv – the first energy agency established in Bulgaria in 1999 – consider that Prof. Plamen Tsvetanov’s perseverance and accomplishments in the field of sustainable energy complement precisely the stellar community of past winners and make him highly deserving of the honor and opportunity bestowed by the Roger Léron Award.
In the politically turbulent 1990s, the energy market scene in Bulgaria was not bright – political attitudes were focused on the big energy generation facilities and sustaining their operation for decades ahead. Back then nobody was considering an alternative energy future for Bulgaria which would eventually result in swift low-carbon transition. But Prof. Tsvetanov believed in precise and fact-based energy modelling approaches to prove small, self-sufficient installations would mitigate the strain on the entire energy system in Bulgaria and make the big generation facilities “retire” without drama.
He backed his vision with concepts for local energy structures – the energy agencies – that would undertake the sustainable energy planning based on common sense, push forward to implement reasonable energy solutions and thus facilitated the transition process. With his outstanding creativity in energy diplomacy, Prof. Tsvetanov brought to the public’s attention and knowledge the importance of energy efficiency and decentralized energy generation through renewable energy sources for Bulgaria’s energy transition. His legacy – the energy agencies – are monuments to his everlasting efforts to advocate the energy transition of common sense – small, individual, self-sufficient and grid-independent installations of, by and for local communities and their members.
The immense efforts of Prof. Tsvetanov to advocate the energy transition of common sense has produced, against many political and professional odds, sustained achievement in the success of Bulgarian energy agencies. Nowadays, Bulgarian energy agencies employ more than 50 experts and have a strong network of local, regional, national and EU partners. Their activities cover directly a population of nearly 2 million citizens, but in practice it is all Bulgarian municipalities. They encourage and enforce EU-wide initiatives like the Covenant of Mayors, Green Digital Charter, etc., at the local level. They have implemented numerous local, national and European projects in cooperation with international partners and continue to expand their professional knowledge capacities.
All these activities have brought to the public agenda themes like the smart cities, Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB), smart edge energy technologies, innovative financial models, etc., which would otherwise lag behind. Procuring the unpopular concept of an alternative energy future and standing up for the establishment of independent local structures to the national bodies have required professional courage and a strong vision, which have earned Prof. Tsvetanov the respect and gratitude of the experts and professionals in the field of sustainable energy.
Back in 1976, in the Institute of Applied Systems Analyses (IASA) prof. Tsvetanov developed an economy-energy-environmental-engineering interactions modeling system for national and regional studies that was used for several decades in Bulgaria. Throughout his career he has looked beyond the big centralized energy generation facilities and has fiercely criticized their becoming a cult in the energy domain and considering them the ultimate energy future for Bulgaria. In this respect, he has authored books, articles, numerous policy papers and speeches on the energy transition of common sense to inspire the new generations of energy experts and professionals to adopt his vision and understanding of a greener future. His vision has been materialized through the establishment of the Bulgarian energy agencies for which he holds great care and affection, and he systematically supports them in all their endeavors. They have become his lasting legacy that will carry on his work far beyond.
Throughout his career Prof. Tsvetanov has shown initiative, leadership and dedication to the green future of the local communities in Bulgaria. His hard work, perseverance and patience have inspired key energy market stakeholders and representatives of public bodies to adopt his vision for a more sustainable and reasonable energy transition. In his undertakings, Prof. Tsvetanov has mobilized and inspired both academics and practitioners to re-think their position on the energy market development. Moreover, through his numerous analyses and research documents, he has motivated them to shift their views and engage them in defending a greener energy transition in Bulgaria. Under his leadership and through his inspiring personality, the Bulgarian energy agencies have attained a leading position among Bulgarian energy stakeholders and taken their rightful place as drivers of the sustainable energy local development in a complex and contradictory energy market. He has continually brought leadership opportunities to the energy agencies. He has encouraged their activities on local, national and EU levels, thus making them a strong and desired partner in the energy transition processes.