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Frontpage News 2015 Prisoners producing solar panels

Green industry innovation project in Sofia prison, Bulgaria. Photo: Petar Yordanov/Innovation Norway
Prisoners in Sofia prison are producing solar panels and water heaters in a new green production facility. Photo: Petar Yordanov/Innovation Norway

Prisoners producing solar panels

  • In Sofia prison in Bulgaria’s capital a new green production facility is set up. The prisoners now get valuable training producing solar panel collectors and water heaters.

    In a renovated building in the yard of Sofia prison – the largest prison in Bulgaria - a new green production facility for production of solar panel collectors and water heaters opened recently with support from the Norway Grants green industry innovation programme. So far more than 130 prisoners have been trained to produce solar panels and boilers for heat and hot water. The workshop is equipped with modern machinery following environmental requirements. The technological process is based on the principles of efficiency, recycling and almost no-waste production.

    “The project is a good example for a green business model, where environmental practices will be incorporated across the value chain of the products,” said Norway’s ambassador to Bulgaria Guro Katharina Vikør after visiting the workshop recently.

    The project is carried out by the state enterprise GE ‘Prisons Production’ in cooperation with the International Development Norway AS. GE ‘Prisons Production’ is responsible for economic activities in places of detention in Bulgaria as well as placing products produced in prisons at the Bulgarian market. The Norwegian partners have been sharing expertise regarding to equipment and design of the production workshop, and have contributed with advice regarding EU regulations, working conditions and environmental impact.

    “The project results will not only have economic and environmental impact, but also a very important social impact. The prisoners will acquire new skills, which will give them an advantage on the labor market after leaving the prison,” Vikør said.

    To involve the prisoners even more, the renovation work of the building was done by the prisoners. 

    Find out more about the project

    Read more about the green industry innovation programme in Bulgaria

    This article is produced based on material provided by Innovation Norway who is the programme operator of the programme.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Construction of Green production workshop - Green industry - Bulgaria

    Project number:


    Priority sector:

    Green Industry Innovation


    € 250000



    Project promoter:

    GE Prison Production

    Type of Institution:

    Trade union

    Project duration:

    19 months

    Project cost:

    € 493,000

    Grant from:

    Norway Grants

    The purpose of the project is to set up a new "green" workshop in place of detention in Sofia for production of solar panel collectors – black, selective and vacuum-tubular and water heaters for environmentally friendly manufacturing of heat power for heating and hot water. This activity is in addition to the existing manufacturing activities for GE "Prisons Production". The good balance of quality and price would be considered as an important advantage for the success of the project and its long-term effect on the economy, employment and environment. First, because it is in line with all developed world polices, partially EU’s ones to decrease the usage of conventional energy for the account of green energy productions. Secondly, the production will be based on technology that is more eco-friendly compared to use of conventional energy. With regards to the production process there are possibilities for introduction of more environmentally friendly solutions than the ones widely used by other Bulgarian companies (best practices). And thirdly, it would be an eco/green business model, where environmental practices will be incorporated across the value chain of the products.