Project BIO-BALANCE for sustainable use of biomass

Since July 2021, Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria has been working on the project BIO-BALANCE “Balanced Use of Solid Biomass for Achieving Climate Neutrality in Central and Eastern EuropeanCountries”, together with WWF organizations in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, the Energy Agency of Plovdiv, and the national organizations of Habitat for Humanity in Hungary and Romania. The project is funded by the the European Commission’s LIFE program and will be implemented until June 30, 2024.

At the national level, the project aims to propose an integrated framework for biomass management that enables its sustainable utilization and contributes to achieving strategic climate and energy goals. At the local level, the project will contribute to reducing the use of wood for heating and replacing it with alternative energy solutions to prevent air pollution during the heating season in
municipalities with energy-poor households. Based on best practices and with the help of experts from the BIO-BALANCE project team, concepts and a set of tools and mechanisms to address the issue will be developed. A local action fund will be created under the project to finance the implementation of demonstration measures.

Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria’s work focuses on Activity C8, “Support for communities where low-income households mainly use wood for heating”. Sharing knowledge and cooperation between municipalities, local NGOs, and active citizens will facilitate the application of best practices for biomass use in these communities and municipalities. The project will be piloted in the Municipality of Botevgrad, where examples of sustainable biomass use and alternative heating forms will be demonstrated, bringing social, economic, and ecological benefits. After a study on the social aspects of biomass use in households in Bulgaria in 2022 – part of a larger study for Central and Eastern European countries – activities were designed to best meet the established needs of communities primarily heating with wood, ensuring sustainable biomass use and minimizing environmental impact from burning.

In 2023, contracts with households living in energy poverty and accommodated in municipal residential buildings were signed. Thirteen identical drying cells (single and double) were built to dry firewood properly for more efficient burning and less environmental pollution. Information meetings were held with households before and after installing the cells.

In 2024, adapted training sessions on energy efficiency for project beneficiaries and monitoring of the results of the activities carried out are planned.

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The BIO-BALANCE project is funded by the LIFE Programme – the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action – and implemented by WWF in partnership with the Plovdiv Energy Agency and Habitat for Humanity offices in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. It builds on the results achieved by the Bio Screen project, which aims to prevent the increased use of forest biomass for energy purposes.