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This Startup Grabs €3.5M to secure the Balkans’ Energy Independence with Solar PVs

Bulgaria solar energy
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  • The newly established Bulgarian company that produces Tier-1 photovoltaic (PV) panels, AE Solar Horizon, attracts a €3.5M investment from the local VC fund New Vision 3 (€1M), the German solar industry leader AE Solar GmbH (€2M), and the Bulgarian engineering company ELIA (€500K). 
  • Founded by the energy specialists Ilko Yotzev and Evgeni Stefanov, AE Solar Horizon plans to build 3 innovative photovoltaic plants, in order to provide a long-term solution for a more environmentally-friendly way of energy supply. 
  • The photovoltaic production plants will be located in Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Greece, and will have the capacity to produce over 3 GWp of solar panels. 


“Seeing how the market is developing and what actions different players are taking, we decided to start working on a project that can help to have a cleaner planet. Realizing all governments rely on solar power to conduct the green transformation, we decided to help our region, and Europe, by developing factories in the Balkans”, Ilko Yotzev, co-founder of Bulgaria solar energy startup AE Solar Horizon explains in a press release

AE Solar Horizon is the second venture of Ilko Yotzev and Evgeni Stefanov. In 2013 the two of them founded  Water and Energy Savings to improve the quality and affordability of energy supply. New Vision 3 participates in the 2020 €800K seed round of Water and Energy Savings.   Prior to his career as a founder, Yotzev worked in EBRD and Siemens and served as the Deputy Energy Minister of Bulgaria between 2002-2005.  

Now, setting on a mission to solve the regional energy crisis in a sustainable manner, the two co-founders are taking on the opportunity to manufacture PV panels that produce both electric and heating energy. 

“The €3.5M investment in the company is a good start. In the months to come, our aim is to raise additional funds, reaching €100M by the end of next year. A further step will be an IPO, as we are already in talks with different European stock exchanges”, Ilko Yotzev highlights.

Read more:  Serbian Orgnostic Closes a $5M Seed Round to Build Data-Informed HR Practices

The untapped PV potential of Bulgaria

A country with a high potential for solar irradiation, Bulgaria started its renewable energy expansion fairly late. In 2007, the first hydropower installations came to life, and then solar power installations started in 2009 and reached a total of 100 Megawatts (MW) in 2011. Since then, however, the capacity hasn’t increased by a lot. In order to encourage more private actors to revive the Bulgarian solar sector after years of halt, lawmakers are making amendments to the Bulgarian Energy Act to reintroduce feed-in–tariff payments for rooftop PVs. 

From a macroeconomic view, the prices of natural gas and electricity have skyrocketed in the past few months due to the war in Ukraine. This highlights the need for more diversified and sustainable ways of generating energy on a regional level. The use of renewable energy sources like the sun is part of the solution, and solar panels play a big role. Their supply, however, is scarce because of the higher demand from governments and businesses and the broken supply chains.

The goal of the Bulgarian solar energy startup, AE Solar Horizon, is to eliminate this obstacle in the solar panel supply chain. When working at full speed, their panels would produce 4TWh of energy every year in the region, which can save up to €1B per year for governments and businesses.

Roadmap of AE Solar Horizon

For the next 12 months to come, AE Solar Horizon will aim to start the construction of the plant in Bulgaria, to have its first factory installed and operating in Tetovo, North Macedonia, and to have selected the location for the Greek factory as well. 

The latest financing would fuel the initial development efforts of the company. Alongside development activities, AE Solar Horizon will be looking to partner with universities in close proximity to the plants to help students gain the needed practical experience in these fields.

Read more:  20 Exited Founders and What They’re Doing Now


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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.