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.

Green industry innovation project in Sofia prison, Bulgaria. Photo: Petar Yordanov/Innovation Norway

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.