The Municipality of Asenovgrad occupies the southeast part of the Province of Plovdiv. It is situated along the two banks of the Assenitsa (Chepelarska, Chaya) River. It covers a small part of the Thracian Lowland to the north, and encompasses spacious areas of the Rhodope Mountains to the south, as a result of which a substantial part of the terrain is strongly indented and inclined. The municipality’s territory is 615 km2. The population of the municipality is approximately 68,000 inhabitants. The municipal centre Asenovgrad is the largest town in the Rhodopes and the second largest in the Province of Plovdiv.
Asenovgrad joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2011 with the aim of promoting energy efficient solutions, the use of renewable energy and environmentally aware citizens.
The main priority areas of Asenovgrad’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan are: Energy savings in buildings through building refurbishment – mainly municipal and residential buildings; street lighting refurbishment; utilisation of renewable energy – fuel switch from heavy fuel oil to biomass (wood chips); utilisation of available wind potential; utilisation of available solar potential.
Solar energy: Asenovgrad Municipality has a potential between 30-60 MW, due to the ability to utilise roof space to generate electricity and/or hot water for domestic use.
Wind energy: the potential of wind in the Municipality of Asenovgrad is assessed up to 250 MW. In order to utilise it to the full extent there is a need to install ICT equipment for detailed measurements in specific areas that are suitable for the deployment of small-scale wind turbines – these are places in the mountainous part of Asenovgrad Municipality at an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level.
Experiences & Learnings
As a Follower City, Asenovgrad has made a lot of experiences and learnings from SmartEnCity project. Asenovgrad benefited most strongly from its participation in the project through:
- the knowledge and experience sharing with other €pean small to mid-sized cities that care about sustainability and are conscious about their carbon footprint,
- the examples of the Lighthouse Cities where specific solutions have been implemented and tested in practice which provide a good starting point for replication under Asenovgrad conditions,
- the SmartEnCity Foresight Methodology and
- the SmartEnCity Integrated Energy Planning (IEP).
With the help of the six steps of the IEP (engage, analyse, diagnose, envision, plan, integrate), Asenovgrad was able to update and enrich previous policy documents. Based on that, Asenovgrad prepared and fulfilled a detailed planning of the foresight experience process. The result has been an Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (IECP) that has been successfully integrated into the Plan for Integrated Development of the Municipality – a master planning document that incorporates all sectors and fields of municipal development. The final version of the document was voted for by the Municipal Council on 27 January 2021.
During the planning process, specific efforts have been directed towards stakeholder engagement by organising participatory workshops and discussion rounds about the sustainable development of the municipality. Together, concrete scenarios for the future development have been formulated and priority areas have been identified and included in the Asenovgrad Energy and Climate Roadmap 2020-2027 with concrete investment projects, required investments and a timeline for implementation. The roadmap is linked to the Asenovgrad IECP and forms the basis for meeting its targets and commitments.
The practical experiences of the SmartEnCity Lighthouse Cities have thus provided a valuable contribution to Asenovgrad’s roadmap, where specific already implemented solutions have been included for future replication, as well as to the sustainable development of Asenovgrad as a whole.
Asenovgrad Scenario Formulation Workshop held as part of the foresight experience. Credits@Municipality of Asenovgrad.