Climate and geography: situated in Rhodope Mountains at about 1000 m above the sea level, surrounding mountain relief, characterized by high peaks and deep river valleys. The climate is transitional continental with Mediterranean influence. The municipal centre Smolyan is situated along a valley. The average yearly temperature is 7-9° C in the valley and 4-5° C on the ridges of mountain peaks. Snow stays about 8-120 days/year and the surrounding mountain ridges protect the valley from extreme colds which makes excellent skiing conditions. Summer is cool and humid and autumn is mild and long. Climatic conditions and rich coniferous forests favour also mountain tourism and recreation.
Smolyan Municipality covers 854 square meters of which over 60 % are coniferous woods which makes wood waste biomass potential significant. There are also mineral springs located on the municipal territory that haven’t been studied and utilized yet. There are also some brown coal deposits and deposits of limestone and sandstone. There are also non-ferrous ore deposits located but not exploited yet. Marble stone and limestone extraction is developed on the municipal territory.
Population: 86 settlements with 41452 inhabitants in total.
Infrastructure: there is a road network but due to the mountain relief it is narrow and curved. The main road connects Smolyan with Plovdiv. All settlements are centrally water and electricity supplied. There are also street networks in municipal settlements. There is a DH network in the municipal centre Smolyan that currently is heavy fuel oil fired. Studies have been made to switch fuel from heavy fuel oil to biomass as well as for network refurbishment to reduce transmission losses. There is no gas supply infrastructure in Smolyan Municipality. The energy consumption of the municipality is formed by heavy fuel oil – 68,40 %, followed by electricity – 28,6 % and the rest is solid fuels (3%). The high conventional liquid fuel prices combined with favourable RES conditions make it feasible to investigate fuel switch from heavy fuel oil to biomass and utilization of solar thermal and PV for heat/DHW and electricity production (respectively). Geothermal power is also an option to consider as well as small HPP.
Economy: Industry is represented by machine building and cable production. Also developed are garment manufacturing, dairy, wood processing, forestry, tourism (skiing). 90 per cent of the industrial entities are small (below 10 employees) and there are only two with more than 100 employees. Agriculture is not well developed as there is not enough agricultural land. It is mainly potato and tobacco planting and cattle and sheep breeding, as well as bee breeding.
RES potential: due to suitable climatic and geographic conditions the potential for RES utilization in Smolyan Municipality is high. It is solar thermal and PV, waste wood biomass, hydropower and geothermal power.
There is a Municipal Programme for Energy Efficiency (2008-2013) and a Programme for Sustainable RES Utilisation (2008-2013) developed in Smolyan Municipality with the main aim to achieve 100 % energy independence of the Municipality.
Energy management introduction and appointing of a municipal energy manager is also set as a priority in the municipal EE Programme.
Smolyan Municipality has experience in implementing of EE project like building refurbishment (mainly municipal buildings: schools, kindergartens), indoors lighting –Green Lighting Project, RES’/PV utilization in municipal building, BuySmart Project – green procurement issues and green labeling, Intelligent Energy Days within Energy cities initiative, etc.
Within Green Twinning activities Smolyan Municipality is a twinning partner to Motril Municipality (Spain) and successful twinning activities have been launched. As a result on 26.09.2013 the Municipal Council of Smolyan Municipality took a decision to sign CoM. Now the municipality with the active assistance of Green Twinning partners is in the procedure of CoM signature, provision of requested input and documents and SEAP development and SEAP projects identification.