The three TPPs in the Maritsa Basin - TPP “Maritsa East” 2 and the US plants “A&E Galabovo” and “ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3” have the opportunity to derogate in their complex permits for the payment of their emissions quotas for industrial pollution. This was announced at the first press conference of the Minister of Environment and Water Asen Lichev by his advisor on the Executive Agency for Environmental Protection Vanya Grigorova. Vanya Grigorova has been retired for four years, but has seven years of experience as director of the Executive Agency for Environmental Protection (EEA) and 17 years of experience in the Ministry of Environment and Water, where she is well acquainted with Asen Lichev as one of the most the old staff in the ministry. The assessments of the specialists for Vanya Grigorova are contradictory.
The other eight large combustion plants are awaiting approval to change their complex permits. The deadline to receive an exemption from European requirements for the payment of free allowances related to air pollution is August 17 this year. "We have undertaken with all directorates of the Ministry of Environment and Water to complete this work activities, work that has stalled since 2018," said Grigorova. This is an opportunity for the industry to obtain compliance and control standards.
According to Grigorova, the Executive Agency for Environmental Protection is a pearl in the crown of environmental policies. Much work remains to be done to improve the National Monitoring System.
Over 180 delayed complex permits for enterprises
She explained that the previous government had actually inflicted a number of damage of a managerial nature and delayed the activity of issuing complex permits to enterprises. More than 180 complex business permits have been delayed, which is why there are a number of complaints and complaints from businesses about unfinished business. The losses are greatest in the scheme for greenhouse gas emissions trading, which never really works for the Executive Agency for Environmental Protection.
Grigorova pointed out that there was serious pressure on the employees in the Ministry of Ecology, responsible for issuing complex permits.
Only a few days ago, the Coalition "For Nature to Remain in Bulgaria" submitted a letter to the Minister of Environment and Water requesting an official meeting and the urgent actions to be taken at the Ministry of Ecology. Among them was the insistence of the Ministry of Environment and Water to review the decisions of the Ministry on derogations of polluting enterprises from the Industrial Emissions Directive, which were given to TPP "AES Maritsa East" 1, "Maritsa East" 2 and "Contour Global Maritsa East" 3 and introduction of strict standards for mercury and sulfur dioxide. On the other hand, they also demanded that the incineration of waste, biomass and oil shale in large combustion plants such as TPP "Brickel", Bobov Dol and others be allowed. The Minister of Ecology pointed out that he could not completely stop the import of waste for incineration, but could limit it to a minimum, which can be monitored by the National Environmental Monitoring System.
This is not the first derogation for TPPs, but it may be the last
Thermal power plants with combustion plants using local coal resources also took advantage of the possibilities for derogation under the directive in 2017, which allowed them to comply with more liberal levels of emission limit values for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust, reminded especially for 3eNews Silvia Todorova, director of the Center "Entrepreneurship" and head of the Program "Economic and Financial Affairs" at the Center in the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA).
In the national legislation the procedure for granting derogations is provided in the Environmental Protection Act when conducting the procedures for issuing / reviewing and, if necessary, updating the complex permits. Only at the end of last year, two requests were submitted for updating complex permits in connection with the planned modernization and changes in the operation of coal-fired power plant installations. The application of the proposed derogations allows for the use of a transitional period of several years to achieve the environmental standards set out in the Directive. The aim is to give another opportunity to the enterprises to realize the investment intentions for adaptation and modernization of the combustion installations.
The problem is that if we have to pay these quotas, it will cost us too much. For each megawatt-hour of electricity produced from the coal of Maritza Iztok mines, between 1.1 and 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are released, and the average annual (for the period 2018-2020) energy produced by the three plants is 16,000,000 megawatt-hours, the required quotas will be in the range between 11.5 and 14.5 million tonnes of emission allowances. Only since the beginning of the year, the value of 1 ton of emissions, according to data from the European Energy Exchange, has increased by about 50%, with the first price in May this year reaching a price of 50 Euro per ton. If we accept this momentary value as a basis for the forecast, then the necessary funds for emission allowances will be between BGN 1.1 and 1.4 billion, Todorova pointed out.
Of course, the possibilities and the process of procrastination cannot go on indefinitely. And this period is shortening more and more, Todorova commented.
Not far off is the period in the horizon of 2025, when the state will have to pay these quotas. Until then, TPP reform policies and new solutions must be a fact, something that should have happened a decade ago.